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PYRAMID BOOKS M N-204 



THE EXPLOSIVE REP&rrfWTHE 
DEADLY CHEMICALS THAT HAVE 
INVADED YOUR DAILY DIET! 



IN TOOT 


POOD 


Newly Revised and Up-To-Date 



BY WILLIAM EGMGGOOD 

















CITIZEN BEWARE- 

SOMEONE IS PLAYING GAMES WITH YOUR LIFEI 


Everything we now eat has been treated with some 
chemical agent. Our air, our water, our food- 
all have been infused with some poisonous 
substance. 

There are some who claim that these agents are 
negligible. They feel that a small amount of poi¬ 
son will do no harm. 

But the staggering health statistics prove that these 
people are terribly wrong. Our life is declining 
with each small dose. . . . 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 

Focuses a powerful and long overdue floodlight 
on one of the most explosive issues facing you 
today! 


Also by William Longgood: 


The Suez Story—Key to the Middle East 

The Pink Slip (with Ed Wallace) 

Talking Your Way To Success— 

the story of the Dale Carnegie Course 



THE POISONS 


IN 

YOUR FOOD 


NEW REVISED EDITION 

WILLIAM L0NGG00D 


PYRAMID BOOKS • NEW YORK 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


A PYRAMID BOOK 

Published by arrangement with Simon and Schuster, Inc. 

Simon and Schuster, Inc. edition published 1960 
Pyramid edition published July, 1969 
Sixth printing. May 1971 

Copyright © I960, 1969 by William Longgood 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 59-13880 

All Rights Reserved 

Printed in the United States of America 

PYRAMID BOOKS are published by Pyramid Publications 
A Division of The Walter Reade Organization, Inc. 

444 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10022, U.S.A. 




■B* - 



Contents 



i *' , 

INTRODUCTION 

7 

I 

The Poisons You Eat 

10 

n 

The Nation's Health — Hospitals, SRO 

27 

m 

A Little Poison 

43 

IV 

Bug Killers in Every Bite 

52 

V 

Cancer and Human Guinea Pigs 

81 

VI 

Dyes—the “Innocent” Carcinogens 

95 

VII 

Test-Tube Meat 

109 

VIII 

Emulsifiers — 

Whose Laboratory, Which Tests? 

138 

IX 

White Bread — 

Enriched but Still Impoverished 

149 

X 

The Sugar Story 

162 

XI 

You Are What You Eat 

170 

xn 

The Law That Does Not Protect 

186 

XIII 

What to Do about It 

206 


Bibliography 


221 


Acknowledgments 


In preparing this book I was fortunate in having the en¬ 
couragement and assistance of some of the most competent 
medical and research physicians in America. These men, 
out of their own sense of alarm about the health hazard 
posed by chemicals being used in foods, gave freely and 
generously of their time and technical knowledge. I am 
deeply grateful to them for their help. 

I wish to pay tribute to Congressman James J. Delaney 
of New York, who has lived up to the highest ideals of 
public service by courageously leading the fight for strong 
laws that will assure the nation a pure and wholesome 
food supply. 

I also wish to express my respect and admiration for 
the doctors and other qualified persons who have spoken 
out so forthrightly and courageously on this tremendously 
important problem. These men are quoted as length in the 
following pages. It is to them, the real authors of this book, 
that this work is dedicated. 


—William Longgood 


INTRODUCTION 


This book, originally published in 1960, has been brought 
up to date in all major respects for this reissue. In the 
decade since it came out there have been many changes in 
the methods of growing, processing and packaging food. 
Primarily these changes have led to an even greater de¬ 
pendence on chemicals by farmers and manufacturers. I 
have kept no detailed bookkeeping account of these changes, 
but certainly there has been no change of philosophy on 
the part of the Food and Drug Administration, which 
regulates their use, or on the part of industry as a whole. 

The official line persists that a harmful substance can 
be reduced in amount until it ceases to be harmful. In 
other words, poison in small doses ceases to be poison. 
This concept takes a quantitative rather than a qualitative 
view of matter; it makes no allowance for the minute size 
of a human cell and its vulnerability to alien substances. 
Along with this view of poison persists the parallel concept 
that anything that cannot be isolated in a test tube or 
viewed through a microscope doesn’t exist. It follows, by 
this line of reasoning, that since chemicals injected into 
the daily diet have not been proved to cause immediate 
death or chronic illness, therefore they are safe. 

All of this is part of what has been called the “philos¬ 
ophy of poison.” Contemporary life is dominated by this 
philosophy. Poisons are part of our daily existence. They 
are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we 
eat, the clothes we wear, the goods and materials with 
which we surround ourselves in daily life. 

Industry generally has refused to look upon this chem¬ 
ical onslaught as raising a question of human survival. 
Rather, it deals with it as a problem in public relations. 
Those who question or criticize the use in food of thc'-c 
powerful chemicals that are alien to the human body arc 
shouted down with shrill cries of “Crackpot . . . Food 
faddist . . . Nut.” Industry scientists use bizarre logic and 
semantic evasions to avoid dealing with the critical issue 
at stake. They quibble about the definition of poison as if 


7 


8 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


the body could be deceived by the sophistry of the mind. 
Their favorite argument is that because a small amount of 
salt is necessary to health and large amounts can kill, it 
therefore follows that virtually every chemical is safe in 
small doses. It' is on this semantic tight-rope that all of 
us walk perilously over the abyss of the unknown. 

Webster defines poison as “any agent which, introduced 
into an organism, may chemically produce an injurious or 
deadly effect. . . Any injury to the cell impairs the 
health of the organ of which it is a part. The greater the 
damage, the less health the organ enjoys. This damage 
may be so subtle that it can be neither seen nor measured, 
or it may be total, which is to say death. 

But it is remarkable how much damage an organ can 
sustain and still be able to function, although with reduced 
efficiency. However, what standard is there in our lives to 
enable us to measure optimum health? How many of us 
really enjoy optimum health, or anything even approxi¬ 
mating it? Most of us are like the boy who couldn’t see 
fifty feet in front of him, but didn’t complain because he 
thought that no one else could see any farther. We settle 
for far less than our birthright. We are content to drag 
through life, calling ourselves healthy if we are free of 
pain and measurable pathology. We do not consider 
exuberance of spirit a vital part of good health. 

Despite the great advances in medicine, doctors have not 
changed their concept of health. They continue to be 
oriented to catastrophe. They are still blind to the delicate 
nuances of flesh and spirit. Medicine has not recognized 
the shadowland between pathology and a vibrant sense of 
well being. How many people go to their physician to 
complain that they “just don’t feel well;” they can’t, put 
their finger on anything specifically wrong, they just feel 
out of sorts, tired all the time, barely able to drag through 
their days. The doctor tests them, thumps them, and an¬ 
nounces triumphantly, “There’s nothing wrong with you. 
The tests are all negative.” 

It may well be. But small comfort for the suffering 
patient. An absence of discernible pathology should not be 
mistaken for health. 

What role do the poisons in our daily environment play 
in this sly undermining of our pleasures in life? Is there 
a connection? Is man not the sum total of what he eats, 
breathes, drinks, thinks and lives? While we receive assur- 



INTRODUCTION 


9 


ances that “there’s nothing wrong” with us, that limited 
amounts of poison are safe, our disease rates soar. Cancer 
and many other ailments seem almost epidemic. Cancer in 
children is no longer a rarity, as this book points out. The 
dreaded word seems to leap from the obituary pages with 
alarming regularity and ever-increasing frequency, a re- 
spector of neither age, social position nor economic 
achievement. 

Our response to this threat has been, characteristically, to 
step up the search for the magic bullet—some mysterious, 
still-elusive cure that will permit us to continue to live 
without regard for the biological limitations imposed on 
mortal creatures; when disaster strikes, we’ll take a pill, a 
shot of this or that, a bolt from some super machine will 
throb through our suffering bodies, and—presto! we can 
continue to live in the wanton and unnatural patterns that 
have already cut down and disabled so many of us. 

We are a people often reckless in our obstinacy, so 
conditioned to look for hidden meanings that frequently 
we fail to recognize the obvious. We refuse to consider the 
simple notion of eliminating the foreign substances that 
assault us in our daily life; instead we stubbornly demand 
definitive proof that these insidious chemical agents are 
responsible for human ailments. We still insist upon labor¬ 
atory proof of that which nature has already demonstrated 
on our tortured bodies with scuh relentless ferocity. 

The time is late. It is to our peril if we delay longer in 
demanding relief, in purging from our environment the 
products and by-products and the whole host of man-made 
insults that have debased the earth and helped bring about 
our ever-increasing miseries of the flesh and spirit. 

William Longgood 

New York, 1969 


1 

/ 

The Poisons 
You Eat 


We are natural beings and are trying to live in 
an artificial world. It cannot be done. There are 
certain fixed points in our problem which limit our 
action; we may not ignore them or disaster hap¬ 
pens. The effects of action taken in their defiance, 
sometimes, in the early stages, supervene so slowly 
that the approaching disaster and its cause are not 
seen or not accepted. 

—Dr. Lionel James Picton 

Those apples you bought at the supermarket for the chil¬ 
dren’s lunch today—you made sure they were red, suc¬ 
culent, unblemished. But did you suspect they were prob¬ 
ably shot through from peel to core with some of the 
most powerful poisons known? 

And how about that prepared cake mix for tonight’s 
dessert? Does it contain real eggs and shortening, or were 
these replaced by an inexpensive chemical that offers no 
nutritional value and has caused extensive organic damage 
and even death to laboratory animals? 

Take a close look at your supply of butter, oleomar¬ 
garine, cheese and liquid oils. Is that their natural color? 
Or do they contain coal-tar dyes, which are highly toxic 
and are suspect as causes of cancer? 

Next, taste the peanut butter. Is that its original flavor? 
Or was it smothered by the addition of hydrogenated oil 
(linked with heart disease in man) and replaced with an 
artificial peanut flavor? 

Do not overlook that loaf of “fresh” white bread you 
count on to give your family health and energy. Did you 


10 



THE POISONS YOU EAT 


11 


know that the most valuable nutrients were milled out of 
the flour, that it was chemically aged, chemically bleached, 
the dough treated with chemical softeners and preserva¬ 
tives to make it appear fresh, the starchy remains dosed 
with three or four synthetic vitamins to replace some 
twenty-five nutrients that were removed, and that the bread 
was then sold to you as an “enriched” product? 

Then there’s the milk you give the children to make 
them grow and have strong bones. You already know it 
contains Strontium 90 from H-bomb fallout. But did you 
know the odds are better than six to ten it has traces of 
poison, and one to ten it contains antibiotics? The odds are 
three to four the butter is contaminated with at least one 
insecticide, and one to two these toxic substances arc in 
the cheese. 

The frankfurters are almost sure to have sodium nitrite 
and nitrate preservatives, and perhaps are dyed to give 
them their bright red color. Sunday’s chicken may have 
traces of antibiotics, arsenic and artificial sex hormones 
which add useless fat and water—that you pay for. The 
roasts or steaks probably have traces of hormones, anti¬ 
biotics and the inevitable pesticide poisons that went into 
the cattle’s diet. 

The list is endless. Virtually every bite of food you eat 
has been treated with some chemical somewhere along the 
line: dyes, bleaches, emulsifiers, antioxidants, preservatives, 
flavors, flavor enhancers, buffers, noxious sprays, acidifiers, 
alkalizers, deodorants, moisteners, drying agents, gases, 
extenders, thickeners, disinfectants, defoliants, fungicides, 
neutralizers, artificial sweeteners, anticaking and anti foam¬ 
ing agents, conditioners, curers, hydrolizers, hydrogenators, 
maturers, fortifiers, and many others. 

These are the tools of the food technician—a wizard 
who can beguile, deceive and defraud the housewife by 
making her think she is getting something she isn’t. His 
alchemy can make stale products appear fresh, permit un¬ 
sanitary practices, mask inferior quality, substitute nutri¬ 
tionally inferior or worthless chemicals for more costly 
natural ingredients. These chemicals, almost without ex¬ 
ception, perform their mission at the cost of destroying 
valuable vitamins, minerals and enzymes, stripping food 
products of their natural life-giving qualities. 

The food technician usually becomes the victim of his 
own art because he too must earn a living and must cat 


12 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


what he prepares. He may not set out to shortchange the 
consumer nutritionally or economically, but that generally 
is the ultimate result of his primary function: to prolong 
the shelf-life of food products by preventing spoilage or 
staleness. After the life-process of a foodstuff is reduced 
or destroyed altogether, he must try to mask the damage; 
his chemicals are supposed to give an appearance of vitality 
where there is none, restore missing aroma, “improve” the 
color, give flavor to tasteless, lifeless products. 

Along with nutritional loss, a prime casualty of the 
orgy of chemical adulteration of foods has been flavor. 
Processing leaves a tasteless product that is made palatable 
only by use of more chemicals. But this factory-made 
flavor cannot be confused with the flavor of natural foods. 
To eat foods in their true state for the first time after one 
has known them only as the end product of processing is 
to discover a new—or forgotten—pleasure. 

The deterioration in taste applies to many fruits and 
vegetables. It is not romanticizing the past that makes you 
lament that these things don’t taste the way they did 
years ago. Varieties once prized for their flavor and texture 
have been dropped and replaced by others that meet to¬ 
day’s criteria. The test now is: Will they produce bulk? 
Will they keep? Will they ship? Do they look appetizing? 
Flavor and nutritional values have been sacrificed to 
economic expediency. Chemicals used in the growing 
process have contributed to both loss of flavor and decline 
in nutritional content. 

Traces of these chemicals used in the growing process 
remain on practically all foods we eat, along with others 
which get into foods accidentally during processing; the 
latter substances are known as contaminants. Other chem¬ 
icals, intentionally injected into foods during processing, 
are known as additives. Finally the finished product is 
distributed packed in materials which may contribute 
more chemicals or cause the food to undergo chemical 
changes. Then the restaurant chef or housewife may add 
more chemicals still: tenderizers, flavor enhancers, preser¬ 
vatives, etc. 

These are the chemicals we eat at every meal every day. 
They form what has become known as the chemicals-in- 
foods problem. 

The most serious part of this problem involves the pesti¬ 
cides, because they are unavoidable. The Public Health 



THE POISONS YOU EAT 


13 


Service has stated that it is virtually impossible to get a 
meal in these United States that is not tainted with these 
poisons. 

The chemicals-in-foods problem often is referred to as 
a controversy. This implies two schools of scientific 
thought, one for the use of chemicals, the other opposed. 
The real dispute, however, is between vested interests and 
consumer interests—and rarely do these two interests 
coincide. Few people understand what is at stake in this 
issue. It is a problem so fraught with danger that it can 
spell the difference between health and sickness, even life 
and death. 

The problem has hurtled toward a crisis, for what had 
been a trickle of chemicals has swelled into a torrent since 
World War II. 

According to one authoritative estimate, by Arthur D. 
Little, Inc., the use of additives in foods in the United 
States rose from 419 niHlion pounds in 1955 to 661 
million pounds in 1965—a 58 percent gain in ten years 
The same firm estimates that the use of additives will soar 
to 852 million pounds in 1970 and to 1.03 billion pounds 
in 1975. The present rate of consumption comes to ap¬ 
proximately three pounds of additives per person per year 

It has been variously estimated that there are up to a 
thousand different additives in use. Just prior to a new 
food law that became effective in 1960, the Food and 
Drug Administration, (FDA), using the most conservative 
estimate of five hundred, said that about one third were 
known to be harmless; another third were considered 
safe in the amounts used, and the remaining third were in 
a scientific no man’s land—they were in use but had not 
been adequately tested. The FDA’s then Commissioner, 
the late George P. Larrick, said, “Our scientists do not 
know whether they are safe or not, but they suspect some 
of them ought not to be in use.” 

A Congressional subcommittee that held hearings on 
the use of chemicals in foods from 1950 to 1952 decided 
there were 704 of these substances. Headed by Representa¬ 
tive James J. Delaney of New York, the committee said 
only 428 were known to be safe, leaving 276 of unproved 
safety—and the consuming public was left to play the 
role of guinea pig. 

Some of these chemicals are so poisonous they will kill 
human beings instantly if eaten in large doses. But in- 





14 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


dustrial chemists have argued that they are safe because 
they are consumed in small amounts—an argument that 
is the heart of the problem. 

Many of these violently potent new compounds never 
existed before in the history of the world until mixed in 
somebody’s test tube. Consequently the human system has 
had no experience with them. Dr. William E. Smith, a 
noted cancer researcher, said: “The growing custom of in¬ 
troducing an endless series of biologically foreign molecules 
into the human organism for various commercial advan¬ 
tages is not unlike throwing a collection of nuts and bolts 
into the most delicate machinery known.” 

The late Sir Edward Mellanby, one of Britain’s best- 
known research physicians, said that “our patients are 
consuming substances which, if they knew, they would 
never dream of touching,” and “medical experts ... are 
no less ignorant than their patients, in respect to many 
of the questionable substances being used in foods.” 

The problem is compounded because these powerful 
chemicals are consumed indiscriminately by young and 
old, healthy and sick, weak and strong, without proper 
consideration for individual differences. Laboratory ex¬ 
periments with animals are the basis for claiming these 
compounds are safe for human beings, but the ideal 
conditions found in the laboratory seldom are duplicated in 
the outside world, and—more important—man and ani¬ 
mals are different species. While absence of evidence of 
harm should not be taken as proof that no harm exists, 
we still must realize that evidence of harm to any species 
of animal must, for our safety, be considered relevant to 
man. 

This difference was pointed up by Dr. H. M. Sinclair 
of Oxford University, who recalled the following incident: 
During World War II a group of soldiers in Canada be¬ 
came sick from eating a new kind of soup ration de¬ 
veloped in the United States; when the scientist who had 
prepared the product was told it had been found wanting, 
he indignantly replied, “Why, rats grew all right on it in 
the laboratory.” 

Another problem is that frequently the people who are 
in a position to decide the issue of whether a chemical is 
harmful are judges or lawyers v/ith no real understanding 
of the biological subtleties involved, and, as evidence of 
harm to human beings they demand nothing less than a 



THE POISONS YOU EAT 


15 


corpse. Even if such evidence exists there may arise the 
question of whether the substances under fire triggered 
the fatal ailment. Injuries from defective foods usually take 
a long time to develop and are difficult to pinpoint. The 
problem could be resolved only by turning man into a 
laboratory specimen—employing him in controlled ex¬ 
periments, then cutting him open and examining his organs 
for damage. 

The law makes no objection to using Americans in its 
great chemical experiment, turning them into so many 
chemical laboratories, but it draws the line at sacrificing 
them to determine how their innards fared. Because of this 
restriction, animals are used in man’s place. This is not 
very satisfactory because what is true for animals is not 
necessarily true for human beings, as Dr. Sinclair and 
others have pointed out; but it is the best arrangement 
possible in the circumstances. 

There are various examples of the dire results of such a 
casual attitude toward testing. 

At least two persons died and more than 200 others 
were made ill in New Jersey and Pennsylvania after eating 
fish dosed with a high concentration of sodium nitrite, a 
preservative, shortly before Lent of 1959. The poison 
was illegally used on flounder and fluke by a Philadelphia 
wholesaler. 

Only a few months later, shortly before Thanksgiving, 
the Government warned that huge supplies of cranberries 
had been contaminated with aminotriazole, a weed killer 
that had caused cancer of the thyroid when administered 
to test animals in minute doses. The government had 
approved the chemical for use in 1958, but only after 
harvest. It was claimed that some growers incorrectly used 
the weed killer prior to harvest, well before 1959, as early 
as 1957. 

Industry spokesmen asserted that cranberries are only 
a small part of the diet and therefore the chemical was 
harmless, but as emphasized elsewhere in this text, cancer 
experts have warned repeatedly that a carcinogen need 
be administered only in tiny amounts and not continuously 
to cause cancer in susceptible individuals. 

It is difficult, in general, for people to appreciate the 
danger of consuming toxic chemicals which, when taken in 
small amounts, work slowly in bringing on sickness and 
death. For this reason it often is assumed that a product 


16 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


is safe because it has been in general use a long time; but 
this is not by any means incontrovertible evidence of its 
harmlessness. Repeatedly it has been shown that long¬ 
term use is no guarantee of safety. 

Coumarin, an ingredient of imitation vanilla flavors, 
was used for seventy-five years in a wide variety of con¬ 
fections before it was found to produce serious liver 
damage in animals used for experimentation. Dulcin, an 
artificial sweetening agent, was used for more than a 
half-century as a sugar substitute before it was found to 
cause cancer in animals. Butter yellow, a food coloring, 
was used for several years before it was found to cause 
cancer of the liver. Mineral oil, long used as a salad dress¬ 
ing and substitute for food oils, was found to interfere 
with the absorption and utilization by the body of several 
vitamins, primarily vitamin A, in foods. 

This by no means exhausts the list. These substances now 
are outlawed from use in foods—but how many people are 
in their graves or in ill health because they once were 
used? How many more people are dying now or will die in 
the future because our food laws are designed to protect 
commercial interests first, and people afterward? 

It is generally believed that the public is protected by the 
Pure Food Law. But is wasn’t until the summer of 1958— 
some fifty-two years after passage of the original law— 
that Congress finally got around to requiring that chemicals 
be tested for “safety” before they could be injected into 
foods, and then the new law was riddled with so many 
loopholes that it was largely ineffective as an instrument 
for consumer protection. 

Further, it should be emphasized, the amendment to the 
food law does not touch upon the most serious part of 
the problem—the pesticides. Nor does it affect most of the 
harmful and suspect chemicals discussed in this book. 

How many people have died and will die because of the 
failure of the law to provide real legal protection for the 
people will never be known. But the record shows that 
there have been deaths due to eating foods containing 
poisonous chemicals; and there are known cases of illness 
and narrow escapes from serious illness. 

While the new law required that chemicals be tested and 
approved by the FDA before they can be injected into 
foods, hundreds in common use had never been adequately 
tested. Many of these additives were scheduled to be elim- 




THE POISONS YOU EAT 


17 


inated under the new law’s cut-off date of March 5, 1960, 
but the FDA stated that some would be permitted to re¬ 
main in use another year, as provided by law, while being 
tested. All of the chemicals were permitted by Congress to 
remain in use in food, while they were being tested, for 
eighteen months after the law was amended in 1958, so 
further extensions could be granted by FDA. These sub¬ 
stances were tested only for toxicity, not for their ability 
to cause cancer. 

The public, as usual, played its historic role of guinea 
pig to accommodate commercial interests. 

This accommodation had a more ominous meaning than 
might at first appear. Of some 1,329 chemicals tested by 
the National Cancer Institute, about 25 per cent have been 
found to be carcinogens (substances capable of causing 
cancer in man or animals). Most of these never appeared 
in foods. But it is anybody’s guess how many of the un¬ 
tested substances now in common use in foods will turn 
out to be carcinogens. The Public Health Service has said 
that on the basis of past results it can be assumed that 
approximately one out of four may be found capable of 
causing cancer. In other words, you have no assurance that 
some of the food additives and contaminants you ate this 
very day won’t push you along toward a cancer. 

In addition to the chemicals that still have a question 
mark after their names, several substances that now appear 
in the American diet are known to have caused cancers in 
experimental animals, and others have caused cancers in 
men. The use of these carcinogens is tolerated and excused 
by government officials and food technologists, despite 
urgent warnings from cancer experts, on the grounds that 
they are consumed only in small quantities. 

Despite claims by the Food and Drug Administration 
that there are no carcinogens in the food supply, Dr. Wil¬ 
helm H. Hueper, formerly the government’s top investi¬ 
gator in the field of environmental cancer research and 
an international authority in his field, has said: 

“It is a well-established fact that an appreciable and 
growing number of chemicals, of which a few arc known 
to enter the human food supply, are capable of causing 
and do cause cancers in man under proper conditions of 
exposure. 

“This disconcerting situation is aggravated by the 
observation that many additional chemicals, some of which 


18 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


are incorporated into consumer goods including foodstuffs, 
elicit cancers in experimental animals when introduced in 
proper amounts and under suitable conditions.” 

In 1967, two years after Dr. Hueper retired as chief of 
the environmental section at the National Cancer Institute, 
he was quoted in Medical World News as saying that “sev¬ 
eral thousand different chemicals and chemical mixtures 
used additives and pesticides for a great variety of pur¬ 
poses are now incorporated into foods. Many of these 
have not been adequately tested for carcinogenic prop¬ 
erties. There is practically no feasible escape route left for 
the captive population to avoid continued contact with 
unintentional food additives.” 

Dr. Hueper urged the government not to settle for 
vaguely defined tolerance levels but instead to outlaw any 
food additives, cosmetics and pesticides that cause cancer 
in animals. Further, he called on the FDA to make public 
all information on toxicity and carcinogenicity of food 
additives that are submitted to the agency with petitions 
for certification. 

“The present FDA policy of strict secrecy in these mat¬ 
ters is definitely against the public interest,” he said. “It 
prevents an examination of the submitted evidence, as well 
as an independent appraisal of reasons for any approval 
by competent investigators not connected with interested 
industries or with governmental agencies involved in these 
decisions.” 

The anticancer clause in the food law does not require 
that food additives be tested for carcinogenic properties 
before they are considered for use in foods. “Moreover,” 
Dr. Hueper said, “it limits the incriminating evidence to 
the demonstration that oral administration of the chemical 
produces a cancerous response.” 

This failure to require that chemicals be tested for 
carcinogenicity, of course, weakens the law’s effectiveness. 
Instead of being protected by strong laws restricting the 
use of carcinogens in foods the public has been asked to 
trust to the FDA’s and industry’s sense of responsibility. 
This overlooks the fact that the public isn’t eating some¬ 
body’s sense of responsibility; every day, at virtually every 
meal, people are ingesting known poisons and untested 
chemicals—and the consumer’s primary “protection” is 
official optimism that he isn’t being harmed. 

Industry’s optimism outshines even that of the FDA. 



THE POISONS YOU EAT 


19 


For many years industry vigorously fought any law that 
would require chemicals to be tested before being used in 
foods. In one instance a journal devoted to food technology 
criticized those who “leaned a bit backward in the interest 
of safety.” Most tests were designed to prove only that the 
substance in question was not instantly lethal. 

It’s a rare chemical that finds its way into the food 
stream because of the consumer’s nutritional needs. In¬ 
dustry and the government alike have felt that it is enough 
for the public if substances aren’t downright harmful. 
Seldom indeed does an additive improve the nutritional 
value of a foodstuff. 

Many additives were never designed specifically for use 
in foods. They started as by-products of other chemical 
manufacturing processes or were employed in some 
capacity unrelated to foods. Through someone’s ingenuity 
a use was found for them in foods. This marriage of con¬ 
venience between the chemical and food interests usually 
benefited everyone—except the consumer. 

It doesn’t necessarily mean that a chemical that is used 
in industry, as well as a food additive, is harmful, but at 
times it doesn’t exactly increase its aesthetic appeal. 
Typical of the foreign chemicals now used in foods are 
some that have migrated into various frozen confections. 
Piperonal, an inexpensive substitute for costly vanilla 
flavoring, is also fine for killing lice. A nutty flavor may 
be imparted by butyraldehyde, an ingredient of rubber 
cement and synthetic resins. That cherry taste probably is 
aldehyde C-17, a flammable liquid often found in aniline 
dyes, plastics and synthetic rubbers. Pineapple flavor may 
come from ethyl acetate, better known as a solvent for 
plastics and lacquers; its vapor is known to be irritating 
to the mucous membranes, and prolonged exposure to it 
can cause chronic pulmonary, liver and heart damage. 

Before ice cream had its ingredients fixed by Federal 
standards, it had about ceased to be a tasty mixture of 
eggs, milk, sugar and fruit. Often it was little more than a 
hardened conglomeration of emulsifiers, artificial flavoring 
and coloring and other chemicals—nutritional sins that 
didn’t have to be confessed on the label. Federal standards, 
it should be borne in mind, apply only to certain ice-cream 
products in interstate commerce; others often remain exotic 
chemical mixtures into which anything goes, including 


20 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


baking soda to deacidulate soured milk and cream, to make 
them palatable. 

A space-age phenomenon is blueberry pancake mix with¬ 
out blueberries. Consumers who thought they were eating 
the luscious berries depicted so temptingly on the packages, 
put out by two manufacturers, really were eating nothing 
more than synthetic purple pellets, which contained chem¬ 
ical adulterants. One company’s “blueberries,” according 
to the FDA, were made “chiefly of sugars, nonfat dry milk, 
starch, coconut pulp, artificial coal-tar coloring, artificial 
flavoring, and a very small amount of blueberry pulp.” 
The second firm’s “blueberries” were of an equally startling 
composition: sugar, gum acacia, citric acid, starch, artificial 
coloring and flavoring, and some blueberry pulp. 

As the Consumer Reports pointed out, the mixtures were 
ingenious, but they weren’t blueberries. Both companies 
were forced to change their labels so the public no longer 
would be misled into believing they were eating blue¬ 
berries; but the FDA generously permitted the companies 
to use up their old labels on packages already in retail 
stores. 

Cheese is another foodstuff that has gone down the 
primrose path of chemical adulteration. Processed cheese 
is little more than a complex of chemicals—it is artificially 
thickened, stabilized, preserved, flavored and colored. 
Methyl cellulose, a thickener used in processed cheese, also 
is used to make cosmetics and adhesives; sodium carboxy- 
methyl cellulose, a stabilizer, is also employed in resin- 
emulsion paints and printing inks. Even the cheese wrapper 
is treated. Recently some 6,000 pounds of cheese were 
seized because the chemical used in the wrapping had 
seeped into the cheese; the contaminant was described as 
tasteless, odorless and as poisonous as carbolic acid. 

Industry likes to point out that many products in use 
today would not be possible without additives. Sometimes 
the list of ingredients reads like a chemistry inventory. In 
1966 Chemical and Engineering News published an article 
listing the additives used in several foods; in part it stated: 

“General Mills Rice Provence contains, among its many 
ingredients, mono- and diglycerides (emulsifiers), mono¬ 
sodium glutomate (flavor enhancer) butylated hydroxy- 
anisole, butylated hydroxytoluene, propyl gallate (anti¬ 
oxidants), propylene glycol (carrier), and citric acid 
(sequestering agent). General Foods Whip ’n Chill dessert 



THE POISONS YOU EAT 


21 


mix contains adipic acid (acidulant), propylene glycol 
monostearate (emulsifier), and sodium carboxymethyl- 
cellulose (stabilizer). . . 

In former days, a strong flavor of butter in cottage 
cheese was a sign of quality; now it may be nothing more 
than diacetyl, a highly reactive, yellowish-green chemical 
that gives a deceptive aroma of butter. If water is added to 
cheese to swell its volume, the butterfat content of the 
cheese will be reduced; but a dash of diacetyl will mask 
that fact by giving a rich, buttery aroma. Until recently 
cottage cheese contained the preservative 8-hydroxyquino- 
line (also used in contraceptives and rectal suppositories), 
which has caused cancer when injected into mice. 

Cheese spreads may contain alginic acid (to give uni¬ 
formity of color and flavor), also used in making artificial 
ivory and celluloid. In making domestic Gorgonzola and 
blue cheese it is not necessary to use the expensive sheep’s 
or goat’s milk that appears in imported brands; plain cow’s 
milk may be substituted and the resulting yellow mixture 
bleached white with benzoyl peroxide, a substance known 
to destroy every trace of vitamin A in the milk. 

Candies, especially the cheaper ones, are frequently 
loaded with chemicals. Their test-tube ingredients include 
shellac (to give polish or glaze). 

Probably no beverage escapes some form of adultera¬ 
tion. Beer and ale, for example, may owe their clarity 
(light-stability) and storage life to the chemical polyvinyl¬ 
pyrrolidone (PVP), a multipurpose compound also found 
in aerosol hair sprays. Aside from completely lacking 
nutritive value in itself, PVP is an adsorbing agent that can 
take up vitamins and other substances and render them 
less available for absorption. The compound is now being 
tested for use in wines, fruit juices (particularly grape and 
apple), fruit jellies, vinegar, cider and whisky. 

Butter is another example of the food chemist’s art. 
Winter butter is deficient in nutritive value, but its reveal¬ 
ing paleness can be masked by adding a bit of synthetic 
yellow dye made of a cancer-causing substance. Dr. Wil¬ 
liam B. Bradley, scientific director of the American Insti¬ 
tute of Baking, testified that “this particular use of a 
chemical to cover up the deficiency of a food is sanctioned 
by law.” If the butter is to be stored for a long time or 
shipped a great distance, it is washed so that it will keep 
longer, and before being offered for use a shot of diacctyl 


22 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


is added, restoring the butter aroma but not the missing 
nutrients. 

To prevent spoilage, carrots, oranges, apples, lemons 
and limes are likely to be waxed with a coal-tar-derivative 
paraffin that is highly suspect as a cause of cancer. These 
products and vegetables also may be contaminated with 
phenolic and copper compounds, ammonias and other pre¬ 
servatives—all questionable substances, some of which 
have cumulative tendencies known to imperil certain meta¬ 
bolic processes. 

Most chemicals are accepted for use in foods if they 
qualify to perform the technical job demanded of them— 
with no further questions asked. Will they keep the cake 
from falling? Will they quickly and cheaply add weight to 
meat animals? Will they kill insects? Will they stiffen the 
pickles and firm the tomatoes? Will they keep mold off the 
bread, make the hamburger appear fresh? Will they tender¬ 
ize the steak and give it a charcoal flavor? 

If the chemical is able to perform its job without prov¬ 
ing immediately fatal to test animals fed substantial doses 
of the substance, it is assumed to be safe for humans in 
small, repeated doses. Is not lack of a corpse proof of 
safety? The primary consideration is to reduce costs and 
increase profits; secondary effects are ignored. Why look 
for trouble? 

What this attitude means to the consumer public is illus¬ 
trated by a few chemicals in widespread use. 

Beta-naphthylamine, for example, is a high-voltage 
chemical which has caused bladder cancer in animals and 
men. It is chemically changed to make two coal-tar dyes 
commonly used to color butter and oleomargarine—and 
exactly what happens to this dye in humans is not known: 
whether it is passed out harmlessly, or if it resumes its 
original deadly form as beta-naphthylamine. Latest testing 
procedures indicate that it may resume its carcinogenic 
form inside the body. 

Another example is the artificial sex “hormone” stilbes- 
trol, which quickly and cheaply puts weight on cattle and 
other meat animals by chemically emasculating them. 
This chemical is so potent it is called biological dynamite. 

There are also the ubiquitous pesticides—perhaps poten¬ 
tially more dangerous than radioactive fallout. 

To recognize the hazard of using these chemicals would 
necessitate a tremendous upheaval in industry’s entire ap- 





THE POISONS YOU EAT 


23 


proacb to the production and distribution of food. It is 
easier to close the ears and eyes and concentrate on the 
immediate advantages of more food and less money. Food 
is treated like any other commodity of exchange: some¬ 
thing to be produced as quickly and cheaply as possible 
and sold for maximum returns—good business but, almost 
invariably, bad nutrition. This kind of merchandising leads 
to cutting comers, sacrificing quality to quantity, selling 
appearance instead of content. As often happens, the 
greater the offense against a product, the more money is 
spent advertising its nonexistent virtues; the greater the 
food’s deficiency, the louder the denial of its short¬ 
comings. 

In the endless drive for commercial advantage, the 
American housewife has been the target of an intensive 
barrage of advertising and propaganda that has seduced 
her into believing that black is white and white is black. 
She has been flattered into thinking she knows all about 
nutrition while, in truth, she has been kept in relative 
ignorance about the shortcomings of the highly refined, 
chemically treated devitalized foods she feeds her family; 
she has been given a false sense of security that she is pro¬ 
tected by the nation’s food laws. She has been indoctrinated 
with false information about what constitutes good foods. 
Generally, she does not know that it is possible to be over¬ 
fed and undernourished at the same time. 

Many crusaders have tried to sound the alarm but have 
run into stem resistance. A forthright appraisal of the 
situation was offered by Dr. Edward J. Ryan, former editor 
of the Dental Digest, when he said: 

“Anyone who speaks against food adulteration in any 
of the many forms is subject to ‘name calling.’ The most 
common epithets are ‘food faddist’ or ‘food fakir.’ If you 
object to spraying foods with poisonous chemicals, picking 
fruits green and then applying a dye, to injecting or ad¬ 
ministering antibiotics to poultry and dairy herds, to re¬ 
moving minerals and vitamins from natural foods, to adding 
chemical adulterants to preserve foods from normal chemi¬ 
cal changes, you are offending . . . some of our largest 
and most influential corporations ... we can be certain 
that the public-relations counselors will go to work to 
change the situation—even if that requires a bit of char¬ 
acter assassination directed against those who arc in the 
opposition. 


24 


THE POISONS IN YOUB FOOD 


“Every time a natural substance is removed from a 
food, every time an adulterant is added to a food, the bal¬ 
ance in nature is disturbed . . • The chemical and cellular 
processes within the body cells cannot react to the passing 
whims of chemists without disturbance in function. It 
took thousands of years for the body to adjust itself to 
changing environmental conditions. When these condi¬ 
tions are suddenly altered by the actions of men, the cells 
cannot make the adjustment—disease is the result.” 

As the chemical onslaught gains momentum, increasing 
numbers of scientists and informed laymen are expressing 
alarm about where it will end. Former Representative 
Usher L. Burdick of North Dakota and others have 
charged that the public has not been protected by the 
food laws, and such laws as there are have never been 
enforced. Mr. Burdick flatly charged in a speech read 
into the Congressional Record that there has been a con¬ 
spiracy to dump poisonous chemicals into foods for the 
resulting profits. 

Accusations that government agencies charged with pro¬ 
tecting public health and welfare have given their primary’ 
allegiance to protecting industry profits are hardly new, 
but they have been effectively withheld from the public 
for several decades through economic pressures. Approxi¬ 
mately three decades ago Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, renowned 
as the father of the Pure Food and Drug Act, wrote a 
book called The History of a Crime Against the Food Law, 
in which he charged that the law was intended to protect 
the health of the people was “perverted to protect adulter¬ 
ation of food and drugs.” 

The adulteration of foods that has taken place since then 
makes Dr. Wiley’s era seem in retrospect an era of 
chemical innocence. But one thing has not changed: the 
insistence that it is safe to inject poisons into foods, be¬ 
cause they are ingested in small quantities. It is generally 
overlooked that by the time the many individual foods 
that compose our daily diet have received their particular 
treatment, the total toxic dose the consumer gets is no 
longer small. 

The optimistic viewpoint about the “harmlessness“ of 
eating small amounts of poisons will be examined sub¬ 
sequently, but first let’s see which chemicals might go 
into a typical American family’s Sunday dinner. We do 
not claim that whoever ate this meal would get every 



THE POISONS YOU EAT 


25 


chemical listed, but he would almost be sure to get many 
of them, along with others not mentioned. 


The Menu 


Fruit juice 
Roast beef with 
gravy 

Sweet potatoes 
Peas (canned) 
Tossed salad with 
dressing 


Bread and rolls 
with butter 
Pickles 

Apple pie with ice 
cream 
Milk 
Coffee 


Fruit juices : Benzoic acid (a chemical preservative); di¬ 
methyl polysiloxane (antifoaming agent); DDT and 
related compounds; parathion or one of the other potent 
phosphorus nerve-gas pesticides; saccharin (chemical 
sweetener). 

Roast beet'. DDT and related compounds, methoxychlor, 
chlordane, heptachlor, toxaphene, lindane, benzene hexa- 
chloride, aldrin, dieldrin and other pesticides, particularly 
in the fatty parts; stilbestrol (artificial female sex hor¬ 
mone); aureomycin (antibiotic); mineral oil residue from 
wrapping paper. 

Gravy: DDT and other pesticides that were in the meat; 
antibiotics; products formed from the interaction between 
the chlorine-dioxide bleach used on the flour and the flour 
nutrients. 

Sweet potatoes: Pesticides such as dieldrin, heptachlor, 
chlordane, ethylene dibromide; coal-tar dye; sulphuric pre¬ 
servatives. 

Peas: Magnesium chloride (color retainer); magnesium 
carbonate (alkalizer); DDT, parathion, methoxychlor, 
malathion. 

Tossed salad (with dressing): Sodium alginate (sta¬ 
bilizer); monoisopropyl citrate (antioxidant to prevent 
fat deterioration); DDT and related compounds; phos¬ 
phorus insecticides; weed killers. 

Bread and rolls: Products of bleach interaction in flour; 
ammonium chloride (dough conditioner); mono- and 
digylcerides and polyoxyethylene (softeners); ditcrtiary- 
Butyl-para-Cresol (antioxidant); nitrated flour or coal-tar 
dye (to give bakery products yellow color suggestive of 
butter and egg yolks); vitamin fortifiers (to replace 
nutrients lost in milling); DDT and related compounds; 
parathion and related compounds. 




26 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


Butter-. Nordihydroguaiaretic acid (antioxidant); oxida¬ 
tion products resulting from interaction with hydrogen 
peroxide (bleach); magnesium oxide (neutralizer); AB 
and OB Yellow (coal-tar dyes); diacetyl (artificial 
aromatic agent); DDT and related agents. 

Pickles-. Aluminum sulphate (firming agent); sodium 
nitrate (texturizer); emulsifier (to disperse flavor). 

Apple pie: Butylated hydroxyanisole (antioxidant in 
lard); chemical agents in flour and butter or margarine; 
sodium o-phenylphenate (preservative); several or possibly 
all of following pesticides used on apples: DDT, dinitro- 
orthocresol, benzene hexachloride, malathion, parathion, 
demeton, lindane, lead arsenate, nicotine, methoxychlor, 
chlordane and others. Some of these pesticides also would 
appear in the lard. 

Ice cream: Carboxymethylcellulose (stabilizer); mono- 
and diglycerides (emulsifier); artificial flavoring; coal-tar 
dye; antibiotics; DDT and related compounds. (If not un¬ 
der the regulations of interstate commerce, ice cream might 
contain other chemicals that are banned under Federal reg¬ 
ulations. ) 

Oleomargarine (used in cooking): Mono- and diglyce¬ 
rides; isopropyl citrate; monoisopropyl citrate (stabilizer); 
AB and OB Yellow; DDT and related products. 

In the table salt sprinkled on the food were calcium hy¬ 
droxide (stabilizer); potassium iodide (nutrient supple¬ 
ment); calcium silicate (anticaking agent). If drinks such 
as old-fashioneds were served before dinner, they probably 
contained dimethyl polysiloxane (antifoaming agent); or¬ 
ange slices with dyed peel; sodium o-phenylphenate and 
ammonia (preservatives); maraschino cherries which had 
been preserved with sodium benzoate, texture-improved 
with calcium hydroxide, bleached with sulphur dioxide, 
injected with artificial flavoring, and then colored an ap¬ 
pealing red with a coal-tar dye. Both fruits would have 
insecticide residue. In the children’s milk there almost cer¬ 
tainly would have been DDT or its chemical kin and 
antibiotics—or both, as in cream used in the coffee. 

Consumers will never know exactly what chemicals they 
are being subjected to until industry is required by law to 
label each individual product, with information as td 
which sprays, additives and other chemicals were used on 
this product, and the amounts of such substances in weights 
and percentages. Without this basic safeguard the public 



THE NATION'S HEALTH-HOSPITALS. SRO 


27 


will continue to be a guinea pig, unable to choose or reject 
a food according to its integrity, forced, instead, to choose 
by its appearance or advertising claims for it. 

Until this protection is legislated by Congress, Ameri¬ 
cans will be forced to continue their hazardous game of 
nutritional Russian roulette, dependent upon luck and 
someone else’s concept of what is harmless, for their safety. 

The longer our lawmakers delay in recognizing that their 
first obligation is to the public welfare and not to cor¬ 
porate profits, the more chemicals will be dumped into the 
food stream, the harder it will be to eliminate these sub¬ 
stances, and the greater the peril will be. 

Paul Dunbar, former FDA Commissioner, warning that 
no one can tell what new diseases may grow out of the 
use of synthetic foods, stated the case with admirable clar¬ 
ity when he said, “When man starts competing with nature 
in the blending of food elements he should be sure that 
his formula does not bear the skull and crossbones.” 


2 

The Nation’s Health- 
Hospitals, SRO 


We have not been capable of distinguishing the 
prohibited from the lawful. We have infringed nat¬ 
ural laws. We have thus committed the supreme 
sin, the sin that is always punished. The dogmas 
of scientific religion and industrial morals have 
fallen under the onslaught of biological reality. 

Life always gives an identical answer when asked 
to trespass on forbidden ground. It weakens. And 
civilizations collapse. 

—Alexis Carrel 
(Man (he Unknown) 

( 1 ) 

The American people have been assured so often that 
they are healthier and live longer than any other people in 



28 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


the world that this statement generally is accepted as a fact. 

Credit for this enviable state of health and longevity is 
traced to many factors in the so-called American way of 
life. Cited most often is the alleged excellence of the na¬ 
tion’s food supply; and this, in turn, is attributed to tech¬ 
nological advances of the food and chemical industries, 
working harmoniously and selflessly toward the mutual 
goal of a stronger, more prosperous and healthier (usually 
in that order) America. 

Primary emphasis is laid on our increased life span. 
Statistics—that invaluable aid of those with something to 
sell—show that the average American of today can look 
forward to living longer than his ancestors and that the life 
span is increasing all the time. This claim is presented, 
and generally accepted, as conclusive proof of the nation’s 
collective health and is supported by the fact that each 
generation is growing progressively taller. 

Since health has been equated with diet (and properly 
so), the American people repeatedly are told that they 
are indebted to the fabricators and purveyors of the na¬ 
tion’s food supply for their prolonged and healthful exist¬ 
ence on this earth. 

The linking of food and health suggests that a closer 
examination of the statistical foundations on which our 
assumptions rest is in order. And the fine print suggests 
that all is not quite what it is said to be. 

As of 1967, life expectancy in this country had reached 
an average of 70 years. White boy babies, according to 
insurance statistics, will live to be 67.6 years old (non¬ 
white, 61.1), and white girls 74.7 (non-white, 67.4). Since 
1900. it is pointed out, life expectancy has increased about 
22 years. 

The primary reasons for these gains are attributed to the 
decrease in infectious diseases and the reduction of infant 
and maternal mortality. The dramatic difference these fac¬ 
tors alone made in expected longevity are spelled out by a 
few comparative figures. 

The number of deaths from infectious diseases dropped 
from 676 to 66 per 100,000 persons between 1900 and 
1949; antibiotics and sulfa drugs alone saved 1.500.000 
lives during their first fifteen years of use. according to 
the U. S. Public Health Service. In 1916, ten per cent of 
the babies born in America died before their first birth¬ 
day, but now less than three per cent die in their first year. 





THE NATION'S HEALTH-HOSPITALS. SRO 


29 


In the same period, maternal deaths have dropped from 
622 to 83 per 100,000 live births. 

Many Americans assume that because the expected life 
span has been increased twenty-two years, they can look 
forward to that many more years of life. The unpleasant 
truth is that a man of forty today can anticipate living 
only about two years longer than a man of forty in 1900. 

This small increase is all we have to show for the re¬ 
markable improvements during the last half century in 
medical care, better sanitation, housing, improved knowl¬ 
edge of nutrition and other technological and social ad¬ 
vances we justly take pride in. 

The late Dr. Norman Jolliffe, in charge of nutrition for 
the New York City Department of Health, wrote in the 
New York State Medical Journal (September 15, 1955): 

“Although in America today life expectancy at birth is 
near the best of any civilized country in the world ... at 
the age of 40 life expectancy is near the bottom.” 

While longevity forecasts for today’s babies are cause 
for great rejoicing, they may be premature. These are 
chemical babies. They are being born into a poisoned 
world. As matters stand, every day of their lives they arc 
destined to exist in an atmosphere poisoned by radioac¬ 
tivity; they must breathe poisoned air, drink poisoned 
water, eat poisoned and unnatural foods; they must con¬ 
tend with conditions human creatures never before in the 
history of the world had to contend with. 

According to the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 
in 1968 the United States had an infant mortality rate 
higher than that of 12 other countries. Deaths of children 
occurred at the rate of 22.1 per 1,000 live births. 

The optimistic predictions of infant life expectancy is 
based on the age at which men and women are dying now: 
this older generation was raised on a diet relatively free of 
chemicals, and large numbers got off to a good start in 
the healthful environment of a rural area rather than the 
polluted cities. 

They also were raised in a “sink-or-swim” atmosphere 
that has now been so modified that it can be said no longer 
to exist. They were not protected by a multitude of vac¬ 
cines, sanitary conditions, sterile water, hospitalization for 
minor ailments, wonder drugs and many other factors that 
shelter today’s youngsters; if they were strong enough to 



30 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


meet the stress of life they lived, if they were weak they 
perished; it was a matter of survival of the fittest. 

Today’s children often begin their life’s journey with 
built-in weaknesses. Considerable evidence points out that 
today’s babies are being weakened not only by environ¬ 
mental influences but genetic-ones as well; and the child 
of the future may have even less inherent resistance to 
■disease and sickness, due to the very medical and techno¬ 
logical achievements we tout so highly. 

The nation’s reduced death rate is cited as further proof 
of our improved health. While cause for pride among 
health officials, the death rate has little to do with health. 
A British writer once took this argument apart in a telling 
manner. Pointing out that “again and again this fallacy 
appears in the press,” he questioned why it was assumed 
that a falling death rate connotes higher standards of 
health. To save a man’s life by drugs or surgery does not 
necessarily make a healthy man of him, he noted. The 
national health is the sum total of the healths of individ¬ 
uals; it can be nothing else. 

“If the reasoning ‘low death rate, therefore good health’ 
is sound, then if in an institution filled with incurables 
there is no death during the year, the death rate becomes 
nil, and consequently the institution is the healthiest place 
in England, though there is not a single healthy per¬ 
son in it. 

“What we should like to know is the number of semi¬ 
invalids carried by the nation; why all hospitals and nursing 
homes, etc., are full. Why . . . the increase . . . of . . . 
illness? Why the enormous decline in quality of eyes and 
teeth?” 

Even the fact that we are bigger and appear more robust 
than our ancestors is little proof of health Harry L. Scha- 
piro, anthropologist at the American Museum of Natural 
History, rhetorically questioned where our trend toward 
getting large is going to end: 

“Are we headed for ungainly dinosaurian proportions 
that will lead to our extinction?” 

Harvard’s famous anthropologist, the late Dr. Earnest 
Hooton, held that “American overgrowth may well have 
serious results.” 

The late Dr. Alexis Carrel, the celebrated physiologist 
with the Rockefeller Institute, mulled over the same bio¬ 
logical question in his classic Man the Unknown: 






THE NATION'S HEALTH-HOSPITALS. SRO 


31 


“Are larger and heavier children better than smaller 
ones? Intelligence, alertness, audacity, and resistance to 
disease do not depend on the same factors as the weight 
of the body. . . . The progress of man certainly will not 
come from an increase in weight or in longevity.” 

Dr. Carrel observed that even as we get bigger we be¬ 
come more delicate and fragile; we lack the raw stamina 
and wiry energy of our forebears. 

Despite the weakening of modem man, improvements 
in the environment have enabled more people to live to 
old age today; almost three-fifths of all Americans now live 
past the age of sixty-five. But even the fact that more peo¬ 
ple are living to old age is not proof of health. As the 
infectious diseases have been conquered, people have be¬ 
come subject to a new and more insidious enemy of health 
—the degenerative diseases. Often it is claimed that these 
have become so much more prevalent merely because 
people are living longer. This ignores the fact that these 
scourges attack not only the old but also the young—even 
babies—a medical phenomenon that is new to our time. 

The changing nature of disease was characterized by Dr. 
Iago Galdston, executive secretary of the New York Med¬ 
ical Society, as converting mortality (death) into morbid¬ 
ity (sickness). “Fewer die young.” he said, “more drag 
their ills for longer years.” 

By 1939 chronic diseases had replaced acute infectious 
diseases to such an extent that Dr. S. S. Goldwater, then 
Commissioner of Hospitals in New York City, warned 
that if the trend continued “America may someday be¬ 
come a nation of invalids.” 

Since Dr. Goldwater made his dire prediction the 
chronic diseases have gained momentum rather than 
slackened. 

Organized medicine, for all its successes in combatting 
agents of acute infection, recognizes that it thus far has 
lost in the battle against the degenerative diseases. 

The sound of the trumpets that heralded the wonder 
drugs in recent years is a feeble sound compared to the 
dirge that accompanies a recital of the mushrooming inci¬ 
dence of degenerative diseases. 

More than half the population—babies included—is said 
to be suffering from some form of chronic illness today. 
The toll these ailments of progressive deterioration and 


32 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


ultimate destruction take in human suffering and expense 
is staggering. 

In 1958, Surgeon General Leroy E. Burney said that 
chronic diseases kept 8 per cent of the population, ages 
15 to 44 years, from work or school; 20 per cent of those 
aged 45 to 64; and 57 per cent of those 65 and over. 

A breakdown of the numbers of Americans suffering 
from the various degenerative diseases is a melancholy 
tabulation of cold statistics that have little real relation 
to the misery they represent. 

Cancer claims more than 225,000 lives a year, and an 
estimated one out of every three Americans will develop 
cancer sometime during his life; heart disease takes more 
than 817,000 lives annually and accounts for more than 
half the nation’s deaths; more than 7,000,000 Americans 
suffer from arthritis and other rheumatic ailments; one 
out of every ten living Americans will spend some part 
of his life in a mental institution, and more than half of 
all the nation’s 7,000,000 hospital beds are occupied by 
mental patients—with 250,000 more beds acutely needed to 
care for the backlog of mental patients needing treatment. 

Dr. W. Coda Martin, former Chief of Geriatrics Clinic, 
Metropolitan Hospital, and Visiting Physician in Geriatrics 
for the Bird S. Coler Memorial Hospital, New York, who 
is now practicing in Los Angeles, says that “not only does 
half the population have some form of chronic disease, 
but only 13 per cent of the remainder are free of some 
type of physical defect.” 

In the United States today there are a total of 88,- 
959,534 registered cases of chronic illness, according to 
Dr. Martin. He said that a survey he made of national 
health organizations dealing with specific ailments in¬ 
cluded the following figures: 

Allergic disorders affect 20,000,000 persons; diseases of 
the nervous system, 15,000,000; psychosis and psycho-neu¬ 
rosis, 16,000,000; arteriosclerosis and degenerative heart 
disease, 10,000,000; mentally retarded children, 3 to 
5,000,000 (one retarded child born every 15 minutes); 
ulcers of the stomach and duodenum, 8,500,000; cancer 
700,000; muscular dystrophy, 100,000; tuberculosis, 400,- 
000 (100,000 new cases reported annually); multiple scle¬ 
rosis, 250,000; cerebral palsy, 150,000. 

Sixty per cent of all Americans have defective vision 
requiring that they wear glasses; 10,000,000 suffer various 




THE NATION'S HEALTH-HOSPITALS, SRO 


33 


degrees of deafness; in 1955 there were 334,000 blind per¬ 
sons (66 per cent, or 220,440, cases caused by diseases 
such as arteriosclerosis and glaucoma, and congenital con¬ 
ditions); 10 per cent of American marriages are sterile, 
affecting an estimated 15,000,000 persons. 

In addition, there are 32,000,000 Americans who are 
overweight; 4,000,000 alcoholics, all potential victims of 
disease and early death; and 2,000,000 cases of juvenile 
delinquency, which increasingly is being recognized as a 
form of sickness. 

These figures must be taken as rough estimates because 
no accurate statistics are available; there also is a likeli¬ 
hood that some persons suffer more than one chronic 
ailment. But even if halved, or reduced still further, they 
paint a dismal health picture for the most prosperous 
nation in the world. 

Other figures indioate that the nation’s health is steadily 
deteriorating, rather than improving. Dr. Martin pointed 
out that, despite lowered physical standards, the rejection 
rate of draftees increased from World War I through the 
Korean conflict. He then gave this summary of the health 
of the flower of the nation’s manhood, as reflected in the 
experience of three wars: 

In the First World War 21.3 per cent of the 
drafted men were rejected and 9.9 per cent were 
placed in a limited-service category. At that time 
physical standards were high. These standards 
were substantially those used early in World War 
II, but it soon became apparent that essential man¬ 
power could be obtained only by reducing the 
physical standards with respect to some defects. 

At this time, 1941-43, the total found unfit for 
general military service with the reduced physi¬ 
cal requirements was about 41 per cent in the 
white group, or approximately 10 per cent higher 
than in 1918. 

The rejection rates sharply increased with age. 

The total percentage of rejected men from age 
34-44 years was 64.7 per cent. 

Then came the Korean conflict, and again the 
percentage of rejections increased, even over those 
of World War II. 

In the seven years from June 1947 to June 
1955, 4,321,000 young men between the ages of 


34 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


18 and 25 years were called for pre-induction ex¬ 
amination; 2,248,000, or 52 per cent, were rejected 
for- physical and mental defects—an increase of 
11 per cent over World War II, or a total of 21 
per cent increase in rejections since 1918, in spite 
of a marked lowering of the physical standards. 

The psychiatric requirements were considerably 
liberalized. In fact, the bars were down. Psycho¬ 
neurosis of any degree was acceptable if it had not 
incapacitated the person in civil life. Persons with 
a history of transient psychotic reactions were 
accepted if they had otherwise demonstrated sta¬ 
bility. Such persons were not accepted during 
World War II. 

Also, there were some modifications of the 
physical standards, such as perforated ear drums, 
paroxysmal convulsive disorders, if controlled by 
medication, moderate deformities of the extrem¬ 
ities, etc. All of which were disqualifying defects 
during World War II. Therefore the figures for 
rejections during the Korean conflict are of no 
value in determining the general health of the 
draftees. 

In 1955, 25 per cent of all draftees, ages 21-26, rejected 
in New York City were turned down for heart ailments, 
and of some 200 American soldiers who were killed in 
action and autopsied during the Korean conflict, approx¬ 
imately 80 per cent were found to suffer from heart dis¬ 
ease. The average age of these boys was about 22 years. 
Many of them would not have lived long even had they 
not been cut down in action. 

While virtually every statistic that purports to prove 
something can be disputed, usually with good cause, there 
can be little argument that our nation’s health is on a 
toboggan; the question is. How fast is the toboggan going 
downhill and how steep is the grade? 

The greatest scourge, as health officials repeatedly try 
to hammer home, is heart disease. At an ever-accelerating 
pace it is striking down Americans, especially males. Many 
of them are young men, and some are children. To hear of 
men in their thirties and forties who have died of a heart- 
attack is becoming commonplace. 

The incidence of heart disease among Americans has 




THE NATION'S HEALTH-HOSPITALS, SRO 


35 


been compared to the black plague of the Middle Ages. 
Each year 230,000 men and 130,000 women in this coun¬ 
try die from heart attacks, and about one million more are 
felled by severe attacks. 

Dr. Paul White, who treated former President Eisen¬ 
hower following his heart attack, and Dr. Jolliffe reported 
to Congress in 1955 that the United States is “one of the 
most unhealthy countries in the world” with regard to 
coronary heart disease. Dr. White has called heart disease 
“the modern American epidemic.” Dr. Jolliffe said: “It is 
more dangerous to be a man between the ages of 45 and 
65 in the United States than it is in any other country in 
the world.” The nation’s failure to show a real gain in life 
expectancy among middle-aged men is due to the increase 
in heart attacks, according to Dr. Jolliffe. This increase, he 
said, “has been especially significant among younger and 
middle-aged males.” 

Many medical men insist that there has not really been 
more heart disease; that there are merely better statistics 
today, better reporting of ailments by doctors and better 
diagnostic methods. Some thoughtful observers, however, 
categorically reject this contention. Among them. Dr. Jol¬ 
liffe, who said: 

“Whereas coronary artery disease was a rarity prior to 
1920, it has now become the number one cause of death 
in the 45-to-64-year age group as well as after 65. This has 
been a real increase over and above that accounted for by 
fashion in diagnosis, by an older population, and by im¬ 
proved diagnostic methods. This increase has been espe¬ 
cially significant among younger and middle-aged males.” 

The Lancet, whose opinion is respected throughout the 
medical world, editorially states: 

“. . . all cardiologists whose experience goes back 30 
years or more seem to agree with the vital statisticians 
that the higher mortality rates reflect a real increase in 
coronary artery disease, and also that young people . . . 
are now affected more often than formerly.” 

The treachery of heart attacks is all the more frighten¬ 
ing because—contrary to general belief—heart disease can 
be detected only rarely before an attack. A study of hid¬ 
den heart disease by a group of investigators headed by 
Dr. L. S. Goerke, assistant dean of the Public Health 
School of the University of California, reported in 1957 
that available medical techniques can spot only a small 




36 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


percentage of hidden heart disease in seemingly healthy 
people. 

Among 1,652 people found by various testing proce¬ 
dures to be normal, heart disease developed, within 30 
months, in 52 of them and potential heart disease in 46 
others. Thirteen of the subjects actually died of heart 
trouble during the two-and-one-half year study that was 
reported to the California Medical Association. 

As a cause of death in middle life, heart ailments are 
trailed only by cancer. Since 1937 cancer has been the 
second most common cause of death. In 1900 the death 
rate from cancer was 64 per 100,000 persons, but by 1950 
it had shot up to 147 per 100,000, claiming about 250,000 
victims a year. Cancer, as noted earlier, is no longer a 
disease restricted to older people; indeed, it is second 
only to accidents as a cause of death in children between 
one and fourteen years of age, according to Dr. Charles 
S. Cameron, former medical and scientific director of the 
American Cancer Society. In 1954 then President Eisen¬ 
hower told Congress that 25,000,000 Americans now liv¬ 
ing would die of cancer unless the present cancer mortality 
rate was lowered. 

Dr. Hueper in 1967 made the startling statement (Med¬ 
ical World News) that in the United States alone, between 
20 and 25 per cent of the total population have cancer 
at any given time. 

Leukemia and lung cancer account for most of the cur¬ 
rent cancer deaths. Leukemia’s toll is approximately half 
of all the cancer deaths of children under fifteen years old, 
according to the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company’s 
figures. In general, it was stated, the largest rise occurred 
among children and older people: “. . . the mortality at 
ages 1-4 is not exceeded until ages 55-64.” 

Lung cancer, according to the company’s statistics, ac¬ 
counts for nearly 30 per cent of total cancer mortality 
among men in the 55-64 age range: “. . . this is at least 
three times the comparable death rate from cancer of the 
stomach, the next leading site.” 

The stealthy nature of cancer makes it often difficult 
to detect the affliction, and in some internal sites of the 
body it is impossible to detect until it is beyond successful 
treatment. 

The number of unsuspected cancer cases among Ameri¬ 
cans has been disclosed by many spot checks of appar- 



THE NATION'S HEALTH-HOSPITALS. SRO 


37 


ently healthy people. In a routine examination of 491 
apparently well, actively employed men in New York 
City in 1958, six cancers and 136 lesions that could lead 
to cancer were discovered, according to Dr. Walter E. 
O’Donnell of the Strang Cancer Prevention Clinic. Dr. 
O’Donnell said that only one of the 142 men with can¬ 
cers and lesions had any symptoms that might cause him 
to go to a doctor. 

The same year, in another medical screening in New 
York City, 297 husbands and 290 wives, all apparently 
well, were found to have a total of 18 cancers. Twelve of 
the cancers were in the men, along with 89 precancerous 
conditions and 95 benign tumors. The wives, in addition 
to having 6 cancers, had 147 precancerous conditions, 119 
of these conditions involving the breasts and pelvic or¬ 
gans; the wives also showed 80 benign tumors. Wives and 
husbands, in addition, were found to have a total of 362 
noncancerous ailments. 

In addition to turning up unsuspected cancers, screen¬ 
ing tests have given a dark picture of the nation’s over-all 
health. The Brooklyn Cancer Committee reported that 
more than half of a group of 4,306 persons examined dur¬ 
ing 1958 in Brooklyn’s eight cancer-detection clinics had 
noncancerous conditions needing the services of a doctor. 
Additional meaning can be read into these figures, because 
the people probably wouldn’t have participated in the test 
unless they were in some degree health-conscious. 

Of the 4,306 persons examined, 2,380 had ulcers, dia¬ 
betes, high blood pressure, hernias, heart disease and other 
ailments; there were 659 persons with benign tumors, 74 
with conditions suspect of cancer, and five had proven 
cancers. “Cancer was completely unsuspected by the five 
individuals found to have it,” commented Dr. Saul F. 
Livingston, chairman of professional services for the Can¬ 
cer Committee. 

The general health of New Yorkers is indicative of the 
health of people throughout the nation, according to the 
results of similar studies elsewhere. In a recent study of 
five hundred business executives at the Health Research 
Center of Chicago, more than half of the men examined 
had some unsuspected disease. Only 8 per cent of the 
executives had no apparent disease, and these were in¬ 
variably under forty years old. The physician in charge. 
Dr. Charles E. Thompson, said that one of every ten of 


38 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


the executives examined had a previously undiscovered 
heart disease; one out of nine had insufficient thyroid 
gland secretion, with an excess of fatty elements in the 
blood, believed to be a factor in hardening of the arteries. 
The findings also disclosed that 2 per cent of the men 
examined had cancer. 

Along with the appallingly high incidence of physical 
disorders, there is an equally alarming amount of mental 
disease, with the curve soaring ever upward. Mike Gor¬ 
man, executive director of the National Committee on 
Mental Health, recently upped the estimate that one Amer¬ 
ican out of twelve would spend part of his life in a mental 
hospital—to one out of ten. “And it’s getting worse,” he 
said. “We’re in more trouble than we thought.” 

He described mental disease in the United States as 
“an epidemic sweeping the land.” By calling it an epidemic, 
he said he meant “our inability to stop it . . . the way it 
sweeps in its path all kinds of people . . . the increasing 
numbers of people affected . . . particularly among chil¬ 
dren.” 

Other figures reflect the underlying disaster of mental 
disease. A Metropolitan Life Insurance Company bulle¬ 
tin (September, 1955) noted that from 1931 to 1951 the 
rate for first admissions of patients rose from 85 to 111 
per 100,000 population, and for patients resident in mental 
institutions it increased from 301 to 382 per 100,000. 
More significant, the bulletin stated: “About half of the 
males and females admitted for the first time in 1951 were 
under 45 years of age.” The publication further observed 
that one tenth of all the patients were under age twenty- 
five. 

And there are still other serious chronic illnesses suf¬ 
fered by more than half the population. In 1957 alone, 
according to the National Institute of Health, more than 
100,000,000 Americans suffered from respiratory illnesses 
during the winter months. Many of the victims were hit 
several times. 

This was the year of the Asian flu epidemic, but that 
merely dramatized a permanent condition—the lack of 
resistance to infection. Most of us have such a narrow 
margin of resistance to disease that we are felled by the 
slightest extra stress. 

Respiratory ailments in 1957 caused an “over-all ag¬ 
gregate of 190,000,000 bed days of disability.” During one 




THE NATION'S HEALTH-HOSPITALS. SRO 


39 


period 6,000,000 persons were disabled each day. Pre¬ 
school-age children were a prime target of respiratory 
viruses and the grippe-like illnesses they caused. 

Countless numbers of Americans drag along from day 
to day, exhausted, suffering from indigestion, constipation, 
minor aches and pains. How many people have told their 
doctor they are tired, completely bushed, that they feel like 
they can hardly drag along from one day to the next, only 
to be told by their worthy medical adviser, “Hell, I’m 
tired too. Everybody’s tired.” 

The cost of medical care in the United States today rep¬ 
resents 4 to 5 per cent of the average family’s income, 
according to the Health Information Foundation. 

While 58 per cent of Americans have medical expenses 
of less than 5 per cent of their income, 7 per cent were 
shown to have bills amounting to 20 per cent or more. 
In 1954 medical costs put eight million families—16 per 
cent of the population—in debt for two billion dollars, 
and of that amount $1,100,000,000 accounted for direct 
charges for treatment and the rest was owed to financial 
institutions and individuals who had lent the money. The 
average family’s debt for such service was placed at $137. 

Illness absences alone, by the most conservative esti¬ 
mates, cause the loss of service and production of one 
million workers annually, an approximate five-billion-dol- 
lar loss, according to the Research Council for Economic 
Security. The council said the average absence from work 
due to prolonged illness is more than 10.8 weeks, indicat¬ 
ing a national annual loss of 453,000 man-years, equiva¬ 
lent to a total productive time loss of $1,777,000,000. 

From 1909 to 1955, the number of general hospital 
beds increased some 200 per cent, while the population in 
that period increased only 80 per cent. It could be argued 
with justification that to some extent this reflects a dif¬ 
ferent attitude toward hospitalization, but hospitals have 
become big business. They employ 1,300,000 people—ap¬ 
proximately one out of every fifty working people. 

In 1956 there were 22,089,719 hospital admissions—a 
5 per cent increase over 1955, indicative of the burgeon¬ 
ing amount of hospitalization required by the American 
people. 

The Federal Government spends $2,500,000,000 annu¬ 
ally on health, and in 1958 Professor Wilbur J. Cohen of 
the University of Michigan, former technical adviser to 



40 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


the Social Security Administration, said that the United 
States “must spend from S5 billion to $10 billion more 
each year to take care of its senior citizens.” 

In addition to the staggering amounts spent every year 
for formal medical care, fortunes are spent for various 
remedies that are consumed by the ton to alleviate dis¬ 
comfort and pain, and to try to stop the relentless on¬ 
slaught of disease and sickness. These figures seldom are 
included in health statistics. 

Every year Americans spend fortunes for drugs to calm 
their nerves, settle their stomachs and ease headaches and 
other assorted aches and pains. Drug Topics, a trade pub¬ 
lication, disclosed that in 1967 Americans spent $95,- 
060,000 retail for aspirin alone, and S324,920,000 for all 
aspirin compounds (Anacin, Alka Seltzer, Bufferin etc.). 
More than $100 million is spent annually on sleep-induc¬ 
ing drugs; Americans consume three billion sleep pills a 
year. In some parts of the country barbiturates and ben¬ 
zedrine can be found for sale in hotels, night clubs, gas 
stations and even grocery’ stores, although such sale is 
prohibited by law. 

Dental decay, which is discussed in Chapter X, is so 
rampant that it affects 95 per cent of the population. 

There are approximately twelve million surgical opera¬ 
tions performed annually, and approximately 7 per cent 
of the population has some type of surgery every year. 

What the future portends for the nation’s youth is sug¬ 
gested by studies made by Bonnie Prudden, who served 
as a member of President Eisenhower’s Advisory Com¬ 
mittee on Youth Fitness. Miss Prudden, working with Pro¬ 
fessor Hans Kraus of New York University, tested more 
than 7,000 children in the United States, Italy, Austria 
and Switzerland They found that 57.9 per cent of the 
American youngsters failed in one or more of six basic 
strength and flexibility tests, while only 8.7 per cent of 
the European children flunked. 

Almost six out of ten American children w’ere found to 
be physically unfit, compared to less than one out of ten 
in Italy, Austria and Switzerland. “President Eisenhow'er 
was shocked by these figures,” according to Reader’s Di¬ 
gest (July, 1956), “and slated a national conference to 
deal with the situation.” If this account of the nation’s 
health needed a postscript, it was supplied by the Digest, 
when it added that the physical condition “of our young 




THE NATION'S HEALTH-HOSPITALS. SRO 


41 


people is even worse than it was during World War II, 
when almost three million young men drafted for military 
service were rejected for physical reasons.” 

And that’s the state of the nation’s “health.” 

( 2 ) 

It is characteristic of American optimism to think in 
terms of health rather than sickness. Despite evidence to 
the contrary, we cling with unshaken faith to the idea that 
we are a healthy people. Surgeons zealously remove tons 
of diseased organs; we spend fortunes to build and main¬ 
tain more hospitals; we visit the doctor more frequently, 
we buy mountains of drugs and medications; the dentist’s 
drill tries to keep up with the eroding force of tooth decay, 
and ever-increasing numbers of people fall prey to the 
degenerative diseases—but still we remain unshaken in 
our conviction that this is health. 

The basic problem is that we do not think in terms of 
health. We talk health and think sickness. Our semantic 
seduction has been so complete that we boast of the num¬ 
ber of hospitals and doctors in the United States as a 
measure of our health. We have forgotten that health 
is not made in hospitals; a hospital is a place where one 
goes when health has broken down, and a doctor is a 
symbol not of health but of sickness. 

We no longer believe that health is a natural way of life, 
and that disease and sickness are abnormal. We take bad 
health so much for granted that hospital and medical- 
insurance plans are provided for in the family budget like 
food and clothing. Nearly 70 per cent of the population 
carries some form of health insurance. 

We are resigned to old age, physical deterioration, sick¬ 
ness, even death at an early age. Biologists say a mammal 
should live to be five times as old as the time it took to 
reach maturity. This would mean that man should live to 
be around a hundred and twenty. But we are content to 
settle for much less; we feel fortunate if we live to be 
seventy. 

We try valiantly to mask the effects of premature aging 
and physical degeneration with creams, powders, lipsticks, 
supporting garments, surgical procedures—even as we 
strive for this biological deception we prepare for wh.it 
we consider the inevitable by financially crippling our¬ 
selves with excessive life insurance, medical insurance. 


42 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


“health” disaster insurance and other plans and schemes. 

All this in the name of health. 

Our confusion between sickness and health stems from 
the fact that most of us exist somewhere between the two 
extremes. We are not quite sick most of the time, but 
neither are we quite well. 

Few of us enjoy perfect health. Most of us fall far short 
of that ideal. We may not be bedridden or unable to func¬ 
tion; we may not be in pain or even discomfort most of 
the time, and generally we, are not even aware of our 
shortcomings in health because we have never known 
anything else. We take it for granted that we will have a 
certain number of headaches, backaches, colds, virus in¬ 
fections and maladies without names every year; we phil¬ 
osophically suffer a succession of annoying but generally 
not disabling ailments; we tire easily, and frequently are 
nervous and ill-tempered; we do not hold up well under 
stress; and any resistance we have to serious disease usual¬ 
ly is due to vaccines rather than natural immunity. 

We confuse physical development with good health, sel¬ 
dom realizing that muscular prowess is not in itself insur¬ 
ance against fatigue or ill health; when the bloom of youth 
passes, our muscles lose their natural elasticity, our tissues 
weaken, and we must look to medical science for “health.” 

But the doctor is no more oriented toward real health 
than his patients. Probably even less so. While he also 
talks about health, he is dedicated to sickness. His sphere 
is one of disease and ill health. From the time he enters 
medical school he is trained to deal in pathology; he learns 
to recognize and treat physical abnormalities. 

Curative medicine rarely lifts its goals beyond trying to 
return the stricken individual to a state of painless mobility. 
This is considered normal. But what is normal? It is a re¬ 
sumption of daily living within the shadowland between 
sickness and health—often an area of conflict between 
doctor and patient because there is no pathology the doctor 
can recognize as sickness and no euphoria the patient can 
enjoy as health. The clash frequently is exaggerated because 
the crude instruments of the former frequently will not 
confirm the vague complaints of the latter. No allowance 
is made for the no-man’s land between optimum health 
and evidence of sickness. 

The subtle difference between clinical and optimum 
health is illustrated by the story told of a veterinarian who 





A LITTLE POISON 


43 


one day went hunting high in the mountains. He followed 
the trail of game higher and higher, where civilization had 
not penetrated; finally he shot a deer and dissected it, later 
to exclaim, “I was startled by what I’d found. Until then I 
had never seen the organs of a healthy animal.” 

It is the same with the physician. His standard of nor¬ 
mal is the abnormal: his criterion of health is the absence 
of clinical proof of disease. Dr. D. T. Quigley, veteran 
Nebraska physician, expressed the thought aptly when he 
observed, “We have been afflicted by mass disease for so 
many decades that the average layman and the average 
doctor, and quite obviously the average dentist does not 
know what is normal.” 


3 

A Little Poison 

It was all very well to say “Drink me,” but the 
wise little Alice was not going to do that in a 
hurry; “No, I’ll look first,” she said, “and see 
whether it’s marked ‘ poison’ or not”; for she had 
read several nice little stories about children who 
had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts, and 
other unpleasant things, all because they would 
not remember the simple rules their friends had 
taught them, such as, that a red-hot poker will 
burn you if you hold it too long; and that, if you 
cut your finger very deeply with a knife it usually 
bleeds; and she had never forgotten that if you 
drink very much from a bottle marked “poison,” 
it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner 
or later. 

—Alice in Wonderland 

We have observed the adverse state of the nation’'' 
health. Now let us see to what extent this can be blamed 
on the poisons used in foods. 


44 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


Many arguments are advanced to justify the use of small 
amounts of poisons in foods. All claim to be based on the 
scientific method. Anyone who objects to eating these 
poisons—regardless of the quantity consumed—is accused 
of being hysterical, a crackpot, a food faddist, unscientific 
or something else. But the basic objection remains unan¬ 
swered. 

As Dr. Wiley repeatedly pointed out, the nature of the 
chemical is not changed by reducing the quantity. Regard¬ 
less of how small the dose, it is still poison—just as salami 
remains salami, no matter how thin you slice it. Poison is 
harmful to the human organism. Dr. Wiley emphasized. 
When it is ingested by a human being there is damage. The 
more poison, the more damage. The smaller the amount, 
the less damage. The fact that the dose may be reduced 
until damage no longer can be seen or measured by man’s 
instruments does not mean that the damage no longer 
exists; it merely means that it no longer can be seen. 

The vested interests that profit from the sale and use of 
chemicals in foods are scornful of this attitude. They say it 
is not scientific. As “scientific” proof of the alleged harm¬ 
lessness of eating small amounts of poisons in foods, they 
solemnly point out that it is possible for a person to cram 
enough salt or water down his throat to kill himself. This 
is supposed to prove that everything is harmful and even 
fatal if taken in large enough jolts; it is typical of the ef¬ 
forts of food adulterers to confuse and divert the real issue, 
which concerns the long-term effects of consuming small 
amounts of poisons in foods. 

The argument is patently false for many reasons—pri¬ 
marily because it compares unrelated substances. What 
this strange logic claims is that because a little salt is in¬ 
nocent and a lot is harmful it follows that all other sub¬ 
stances that are harmful in large amounts are safe in 
small amounts. 

Of course salt or water and the hundreds of poisons used 
in foods cannot be equated in this way. Salt and water are 
necessary to life, while virtually none of the food chemicals 
is necessary or even useful to life; with only rare excep¬ 
tions, these chemicals are antagonistic to living tissue. The 
question is not whether they harm those who consume 
them, but the extent of the harm. 

Equally as fallacious as the salt-and-water argument is 
the contention that because certain poisons may be found 





A LITTLE POISON 


45 


in certain foods in their natural state, it is therefore safe 
to add not only a little more of those particular poisons but 
also a host of other toxic substances. This too has been 
submitted as scientific proof that it is safe to use small 
quantities of poisons in foods. 

Dr. Wiley pointed out that poison is poison, whether it 
is produced by nature or propounded by man. Because 
traces of certain toxic substances do appear in a few foods, 
he said, this should not be interpreted as a warrant to add 
more of these poisons, “but, on the contrary, as a highly 
accentuated warning to avoid any additional burden.” 

Dr. Wiley and other scientists who share his views recog¬ 
nize that nature is a more skillful and subtle chemist than 
man, and when she puts a toxic substance in a food plant 
she also may supply—either in the plant or the body of 
the person eating it—the antidote that can make it harm¬ 
less, although the limitations of man’s chemistry may not 
be able to discern this subtlety. 

They feel that natural foods, like the human body, have 
a delicate chemical balance that was established by nature 
for a purpose. These naturally occurring chemicals exist in 
their specific proportion for a specific purpose and this 
balance evolved over millions of years. If a larger or 
smaller quantity were desirable, the amount established by 
nature through the evolutionary process would have been 
larger or smaller. 

Anyone who considers this attitude unscientific should 
consider that nature created and sustained life for untold 
thousands of years before science came into being, only a 
couple of centuries ago. Man has not only been unable to 
duplicate or initiate life, he does not even understand what 
life is, either biologically or philosophically. He can isolate 
and mix the components of protoplasm, but he cannot in¬ 
ject life. 

This is not to detract from the achievements of man. He 
has made remarkable progress in understanding his physical 
world, especially during the last century, but he is not yet 
ready to challenge nature as the master chemist—or bio¬ 
chemist. The true scientist appreciates this fact. He is a 
being of humility and wisdom; he recognizes his limitations 
just as he recognizes his achievements, and he also respects 
his ignorance as he does his knowledge. 

The true scientist docs not scorn the lessons of nature; 
he accepts her as his teacher. He docs not try to conquer. 


46 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


pervert or deceive her with biological tricks and chemical 
cunning; rather does he seek to understand her laws and 
work harmoniously with them. He understands and ap¬ 
preciates fully the lesson Alexis Carrel propounded when 
he said that biologically, in man, the things which are not 
measurable are more important than those which are 
measurable—and for him these things can have momen¬ 
tous consequences. 

Such an approach to the problems of man must be con¬ 
trasted with that of the food technologist. The food technol¬ 
ogist is an employee of a corporation that is in business 
to make a profit, and the more profits he can help bring 
about, the greater his own financial rewards. His job 
is to find ways to substitute cheaper ingredients for more 
expensive natural ones, to develop money-saving short¬ 
cuts, to reduce spoilage, to entice the consumer into buying 
his firm’s products. He is not hired to make the public 
healthier, happier or more prosperous; if any of those 
happy ends came about it would be through chance rather 
than design. 

By means of propaganda, modern advertising techniques 
and a host of provocative names for toxic substances 
people not only have accepted poisoned foods but even 
consider them superior to natural products. They have 
accepted the false thesis that poisons cease to be harmful 
simply because they are taken in “small” quantities. Many 
people can understand that using cheap and impure fuels 
for a car will cause certain parts to wear out prematurely, 
although no apparent damage may be seen in daily opera¬ 
tion of the vehicle; but they cannot conceive that their own 
bodies suffer similarly from the daily use of adulterated 
foods. 

In considering the biological effects of small amounts of 
chemicals injected into foods, it is essential to bear in mind 
one basic fact: the food we eat is the stuff which makes 
up the blood, brain, bone and flesh that constitute a human 
being. If the ingredients that make up man are poisoned 
and synthetic, what is man himself? Can the whole be 
more than the sum of the parts? Can a person be expected 
to have a strong nervous system and enjoy mental health 
when his system is bombarded daily by nerve poisons and 
other toxic substances? Are we to believe that nature is 
so easily deceived about the inherent nature of a poison 
merely because the amount is reduced? 






A LITTLE POISON 


47 


Dr. Wiley, when confronted a half century ago with the 
argument that small amounts of poison are safe, testified 
before Congress that there can be no excuse to justify the 
use of a harmful substance even in small quantities. “The 
character of the offense is not so much the amount of the 
material used as its nature,” he said. He warned about the 
fallacy of thinking that merely because a substance “doesn’t 
hurt you so that you can measure it, it is not harmful.” 
That does not follow at all, he said. If only an infinitesimal 
amount of poison is added to the diet, “we may not be able 
to note any injury coming from it, but there is a subtle 
injury which will tell in time.” 

He pointed out that if any substance is added to food 
that places a burden on the organs, they wear out pre¬ 
maturely, the general vitality of the body is reduced, the 
aging process is speeded, the body becomes susceptible to 
sickness and disease, and inevitably death must result. This 
change is taking place, he emphasized, whether it can be 
measured or not 

The late Dr. Anton J. Carlson, internationally famous 
physiologist of the University of Chicago, and other sci¬ 
entists not beholden to ft^od and chemical interests have 
repeatedly warned about the effects of toxic substances 
in foods today. Dr. Carlson warned that poisons can 
cause many changes in the body that cannot be detected. 
“Most of the organs in the body can be injured a great 
deal before we become actually sick,” he said. 

The science dealing with the complex subject of poisons 
is known as toxicology. The modern practice of toxicology, 
permitting the use of “small” quantities of poisons in foods, 
is based upon the ability of the body, primarily the liver, 
to detoxify and eliminate poisons which are not consumed 
in lethal doses. Instead of recognizing the liver as a 
safety valve and protecting it in every way possible from 
overwork and damage, the food technologists have ex¬ 
ploited it by dousing foods with poisons and untested 
chemicals—in “small” amounts—for commercial profit. 

Because people usually do not drop dead immediately 
after consuming these allegedly small amounts of poisons, 
it has been possible for industry to convince many legisla¬ 
tors and the public generally that these substances arc safe. 

To determine how small the quantity of a poison must 
be to avoid killing people outright, each newly formulated 
chemical substance is subjected to what is known as an LD- 



48 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


50 test. This is the method used to find the lethal (L) dose 
(D) for half (50 per cent) of the animals experimented 
upon; then this amount is used to fix what is believed to be 
a safe dose for humans. 

A major shortcoming of the LD-50 method is that it is 
based upon the average resistance of all the animals being 
tested and it makes little allowance for the most susceptible. 
A few people may suffer ill effects or possibly die after 
taking only a tiny amount, or percentage of die LD-50, 
while others can stand twice as much or more without ob¬ 
vious ill effects. 

Some people may not die or even become ill, but, 
doctors point out, the slightest exposure to foreign sub¬ 
stances may trigger allergic disturbances ranging from 
simple ailments like sinus, nose, throat and ear irritations to 
more complex respiratory, liver, kidney and metabolic 
disabilities. 

The tremendous difference in susceptibility among in¬ 
dividuals has been emphasized by doctors, who note the 
scientific truth of the adage, One man’s meat is another 
man’s poison. Susceptibility is influenced by coundess fac¬ 
tors, such as diet, liver, kidney, metabolic disease, allergy, 
age, sex, physical condition and other considerations. 

Animals are used to prove the alleged harmlessness of 
various chemicals used in foods, but how can an animal 
report what subtle effect a compound may have on his 
general state of health? He cannot report that he has 
spots before his eyes, headache, backache, dizziness, upset 
stomach and similar complaints which ordinarily would 
not be picked up by routine testing procedures. Nor can 
humans who suffer such indispositions trace them precisely 
to any of the hundreds of chemicals they eat. 

The instruments science has to measure damage or func¬ 
tional efficiency in man are fantastically crude compared 
to the delicacy and sensitivity of the life process. Yet it is 
these instruments which must be used to determine harm 
from poisons used in foods. 

Dr. Morton S. Biskind, a noted research physician, ob¬ 
served that “in clinical medicine there is at present a de¬ 
plorable tendency to assume that when objective physical 
findings and laboratory reports are substantially negative, 
there is nothing wrong with the patient, no matter how 
severe his symptoms. But a patient is a whole human being, 
and how he feels is to him the most important aspect of his 




A LITTLE POISON 


49 


existence. The patient is the only unimpeachable authority 
on this subject and no amount of contrary objective data 
can alter that fact. 

“A new principle has, it seems, become entrenched in the 
literature,” he added. “No matter how lethal a poison may 
be for all other forms of animal life, if it doesn’t kill 
human beings instantly it is safe.” 

The threat food chemicals pose is increased by the erects 
they may have on one another. One chemist is concerned 
with proving the “harmlessness” of small amounts of a 
poison insecticide, a second with artificial sex hormones, a 
third with antibiotics, a fourth with emulsifiers, a fifth 
with dyes, a sixth with various preservatives. But almost 
nothing is known about what happens when this con¬ 
glomeration of powerful substances is mixed together in 
the human gut. There have been practically no experi¬ 
ments along this line. 

The problem was brought into sharp focus recently by 
Dr. Henry van Zile Hyde, former chief of the international 
health division of the U.S. Public Health Service, who 
said: 

“Thousands of industrial plants discharge chemical 
wastes into the rivers and streams that provide our drink¬ 
ing water. Hundreds of chemicals that have not been 
adequately tested for their effect on man are added to food 
in order to preserve, color and flavor it. Industry and 
motor vehicles pollute the air of our cities. Each year we 
are swallowing 14 million pounds of aspirins. . . . People 
who do not appear to be happy either asleep or awake are 
taking tranquilizing drugs to keep them in between. How 
dangerous is this chemical miasma?” 

Dr. David E. Price, assistant surgeon general of the 
U. S. Public Health Service from 1952-1957, questioned 
whether all the pollutants man has produced might not 
lead to his wiping out his own species. 

Some medical researchers point out that poisons in 
foods have the following efTect on the human body: 

Every poison taken into the body, if it cannot be ex¬ 
creted rapidly in its original state, must be detoxified. This 
places a heavy and continuing burden on the liver and 
various other organs. In the process of detoxification cer¬ 
tain vitamins are used up, primarily the B vitamins and 
vitamin C. The detoxifying organs, in order to get the 
extra vitamins necessary to do the extra work demanded 


50 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


of them, take vitamins from other parts of the body. This 
can cause a vitamin deficiency. Eventually it can set off 
a chain reaction; certain organs may break down from this 
burden and become unable to do their job, which would 
lead to serious ailments, degenerative diseases including 
cancer, and even death. 

Dr. William Smith, cancer researcher, has said that the 
attitude some technologists have about chemicals today is 
about the same as that held by many scientists about germs 
a century ago. These scientists compared the size of a 
germ to the size of a man and insisted that a little thing 
like a germ couldn’t harm a huge creature like a man. To¬ 
day that sounds ridiculous, in the light of present knowl¬ 
edge that germs so tiny they can’t be seen by the naked eye, 
or micro-organisms so infinitely small they remain invisible 
under the most sensitive microscope, can hastily dispatch 
a man into the hereafter. 

The mysterious and fascinating world that exists beyond 
the eye of the microscope is discussed by Douglas Mars- 
land, professor at New York University, in Principles of 
Modern Biology, a widely used college textbook. He states: 

“The microscope provides many clues to the functions of 
the different parts of the cell. But below the reach of the 
microscope there lies a realm of smaller things: the world 
of molecules and atoms, which compose the ultimate 
structure of all matter.” 

A human being is the multiple of the cells in his body 
and his state of health or sickness depends upon these 
individual cells. 

The true scientist who works in the field of biology is 
aware of the profound complexity of the human mechanism 
and its sensitivity to subtle injuries. It is only the pseudo¬ 
scientist and the charlatan who deceive and cheat the pub¬ 
lic in the name of science. 

Dr. Carlson once was asked by a member of the Delaney 
Committee if crookedness played a part in the results of 
some experiments on food chemicals that were said to 
prove the harmlessness of harmful substances. The vener¬ 
able psychologist replied, “Actual crookedness is a minor 
factor. It does occur occasionally, I am sorry to say, but it 
it stupidity on the whole rather than crookedness. It is 
stupidity.” 

F. J. Schlink, president and technical director of Con¬ 
sumer’s Research, testified before the Delaney Committee 



A LITTLE POISON 


51 


that toxicology is one of the weakest branches of modern 
science, and relatively poorly grounded scientifically. 

A complicating factor, he noted, is that education in the 
field of toxicology is on a very limited scale in this country 
in spite of the importance of this science to the mainten¬ 
ance of public health, and very few toxicologists, other than 
those working in criminal investigation, are available. He 
added: 

“Besides, toxicologists who do work on food, beverage, 
and drug problems are so accustomed to receiving their 
assignments from the industry that they tend to be weak 
in respect to what might be called an attitude of concern 
toward those who will be called upon to consume the fin¬ 
ished products. Chemists are peculiarly at a disadvantage 
in this respect in that for the most part they are not aware 
even of the terrible hazards involved in some of the ma¬ 
terials which they use in their work, and since they are 
accustomed to handling poisons in their daily activities in 
the laboratory, they do not acquire proper respect for 
them, nor are they aware of the dangers to laymen who 
will have no conscious need at all to be on guard against 
avenues of entry of poisonous materials into the body. 

“Most chemists have little or no background in biology 
and toxicology and, worse still, the people who employ 
them for development and improvement of chemical addi¬ 
tions to foods and beverages do not know the limitations 
of chemical knowledge, are not even aware that chemists 
are not qualified to pass on questions of wholesomeness 
and safety of the food supply.” 

The evidence that is piling up in alarming “health" sta¬ 
tistics presents a powerful indictment against the use of 
harmful chemicals in food—even in “small amounts.” 
For, as Alice pointed out in her excursion in Wonderland 
almost a century ago, if you continue to take poison, "it 
is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.” 


4 

Bug Killers 
in Every Bite 


(i) 

The major sources of poison in our daily diet are the 
chemicals that are used in growing foods. These sub¬ 
stances generally are known as pesticides. They have a 
number of functions, but their primary job is to kill bugs 
that attack farm crops and animals. 

This would seem like a noble mission, except for one 
drawback: at the same time man is poisoning his insect 
enemies, he also is poisoning himself by being forced to 
eat traces of these substances that remain on his food. 
The Public Health Service has said it is virtually impos¬ 
sible to find a meal that isn’t laced with these poisons. 

Unlike the pesticides used before World War II, DDT 
and other fantastically potent new poisons in use today 
cannot be washed off foods. They not only remain on the 
outside but penetrate fruits, vegetables and grains, and 
concentrate in the fats of the animals we eat. 

DDT and its chemical cousins also have the unpleasant 
habit of accumulating in the body fat of people. There 
probably is not a person alive in the United States who 
does not have some DDT in his body cells. DDT has, in 
fact, become part of our very being. Babies are born with 
DDT in their bodies, and this poison is in the milk of 
nursing mothers. 

A study reported in The New York Times (January 1, 
1966) disclosed that pesticides were found in the tissues 
of stillborn and unborn babies in concentrations approxi¬ 
mately as high as those found in the mothers and young 
adults of comparable age. 


52 






BUG KILLERS IN EVERY BITE 


53 


Despite its tremendous toxicity, DDT has been so wide¬ 
ly advertised as harmless for humans that it is used reck¬ 
lessly, appearing in everything from wallpaper paste to dry 
cleaning fluid. Each time we are exposed to it a little 
more accumulates in our bodies. For this reason it is 
known as a cumulative poison, and toxicologists recognize 
it as one of the most treacherous poisons ever developed. 

DDT’s cumulative nature underlines the warning of Dr. 
Otto Warburg, a famous German medical researcher and 
Nobel Prizewinner, that any poison which interferes with 
the respiration of the cells causes irreparable damage and 
inevitably leads to deterioration in the form of degenera¬ 
tive diseases, including cancer. Because some of the new¬ 
er poisons do not accumulate in the body, their manufac¬ 
turers claim that they are harmless for man. This ignores 
a basic fact of toxicology: a poison need not be cumula¬ 
tive to have a cumulative effect; the effect of each dose 
adds to that of the previous ones. 

The menace of all the newer poisons has been so skill¬ 
fully underplayed that they have enjoyed tremendous suc¬ 
cess. DDT’s rise has been little short of meteoric. By 
1956, total production of this wartime product and its kin 
had reached 506,370,000 pounds—more than four times 
the total reported for 1947. The amount of money spent 
nationally on all pesticides leaped from $40,000,000 in 
1939 to about $260,000,000 in 1956—with the profiting 
chemical industry predicting sales of one billion dollars by 
1975, a 284 per cent increase. 

Potent as DDT is, it has been outdistanced by some of 
the poisons that followed it; many of these now have a 
nightmarish toxicity. Some of the organic phosphates re¬ 
lated to the war nerve-poisons—are so lethal that a sin¬ 
gle drop in a person’s eye will cause death within seconds. 
Farmers who apply these poisons must protect themselves 
by dressing like space men. Many who got careless have 
paid with their lives. 

Even within its own family group DDT has been left 
behind by its chemical blood brothers. Chlordane, for 
example, is rated by the Food and Drug Administration 
as at least four times as toxic as DDT. The FDA found 
that pigeons could not survive in a small room treated 
with chlordane, even after it was thoroughly scrubbed with 
alkali and subsequently aired for several weeks. 

Dr. Arnold J. Lehman, chief pharmacologist of the 


54 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


FDA, told the Delaney Committee in 1950 that “I would 
hesitate to eat food that had any chlordane on it whatso¬ 
ever.” Despite this warning, the Department of Agricul¬ 
ture has continued to recommend the use of chlordane on 
a multitude of food crops, including sweet corn, sugar 
beets, sugar cane, beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, rad¬ 
ishes, strawberries, turnips, potatoes and apples. Four¬ 
teen years after Dr. Lehman’s statement it is still being 
used. 

DDT’s formal name is dichlorodiphenyltrichlorethane. 
Among chemists it is known as a chlorinated hydrocar¬ 
bon, composed of chlorine, hydrogen and carbon. DDT’s 
prominent relatives, in addition to chlordane, include ald- 
rin, dieldrin, benzene hexachloride (BHC), endrin, hep- 
tachlor, lindane, methoxychlor, TDE and toxaphene. 

DDT was discovered in Germany in 1874 but did not 
become popular as an insecticide until World War II. 
After the war it was introduced to agriculture and was in 
use several years before its hazard to man was suspected. 
By then a tremendous vested interest had been built up in 
it, and the government was in the embarrassing position of 
having released it and endorsed .its safety without adequate 
testing. 

Economic and political expediency dictated the policy 
that subsequently was followed. Anyone who challenged 
the wisdom of eating foods garnished with DDT and other 
poisons was assailed as a crackpot, crank, faddist or quack. 
A gigantic advertising and public-relations program 
smothered all criticism and completely sold the public on 
the harmlessness of eating poisoned foods. 

One of the most outspoken and articulate foes of DDT 
has been Dr. Morton S. Biskind, who formerly was a 
member of the headquarters staff of the Council on Phar¬ 
macy and Chemistry in the American Medical Association 
and in charge of the endocrine laboratory and clinic at 
Beth Israel Hospital in New York. Dr. Biskind told the 
Delaney Committee: 

“Somehow a fantastic myth of human invulnerability 
has grown up with reference to the use of these sub¬ 
stances. Because their effects are cumulative and may be 
insidious and because they resemble those of so many 
other conditions, physicians for the most part have been 
unaware of the danger.” 

Dr. Biskind noted that although there was a large body 




BUG KILLERS IN EVERY BITE 


55 


of information available on the toxicity of DDT, “the evi¬ 
dence has been treated with disbelief, ignored, misinter¬ 
preted, distorted, suppressed, or subjected to some of the 
fanciest double talk ever perpetrated.” 

Dr. Lehman reinforced this warning by testifying that 
it was his “honest opinion” that the potential hazard of 
DDT had been underestimated for some time. 

The AMA Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry, in a 
warning about the use of insecticides in electric vapor¬ 
izers, pointed out that it is not reasonable to expect that 
humans can avoid injury if they are exposed year after 
year to a toxic agent in concentrations that kill insects in a 
few hours—a warning that applies to exposure in any 
form. The AMA said “the resultant injury may be cumu¬ 
lative or delayed, or simulate a chronic disease of other 
origin, thereby making identification and statistical com¬ 
parison difficult or impossible. 

Dr. Malcolm M. Hargraves, internationally known 
blood specialist at the Mayo Clinic, testified, in a legal 
proceeding in Brooklyn Federal Court in 1958, that he 
was positive that DDT and the solutions that carry it in 
sprays cause leukemia, aplastic anemia, Hodgkin’s disease, 
jaundice and other blood disorders, many of them fatal. 
Of more than two hundred patients he treated for those 
maladies during the last four or five years, he said, all 
had histories of exposure to chlorinated hydrocarbons. 
Dozens of those patients are now dead, he added. 

Emphasizing that he could speak only for himself. Dr. 
Hargraves said that the majority of the hematologists he 
worked with at the Mayo Clinic shared his beliefs about 
the dangers of DDT. He said there has been a definite in¬ 
crease in the incidence of the diseases he mentioned since 
DDT came into common use after World War II, and this 
increase could not be accounted for by better reporting 
or superior diagnostic techniques. The greatest incidence 
of leukemia was in five western states that have the most 
cattle and consequently do the most spraying, he said. 

He and other medical witnesses emphasized that people 
vary greatly in their reactions to poisons, just as one per¬ 
son may get drunk from a single beer and another remain 
relatively unaffected by a quart of whisky. Dr. Hargraves 
stated that people with allergies arc the most sensitive to 
the chlorinated hydrocarbons; he agreed that such persons 
form a minority, “but . . . when you consider that there 


56 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


are one hundred and seventy-five million people in this 
country,” this minority represents a sizable number. He 
also pointed out that a person might go a long time with¬ 
out apparent effects from DDT and then be exposed to a 
slight additional amount that would suddenly bring on 
symptoms of poisoning. 

Dr. Hargraves stated: “With many noxious agents in¬ 
termittent exposures, or exposures repeated after variable 
lapses of time, may permit the susceptible individual to 
develop a marked degree of sensitivity so that the next 
exposure may precipitate a disastrous consequence. Our 
periodic spray program would be an ideal mechanism to 
precipitate such a disaster.” 

FDA experiments have demonstrated that rats fed only 
small amounts of DDT developed liver damage, and after 
larger doses tumors appeared. While there is no definite 
proof that DDT causes cancer in man. Dr. E. H. Lucas, a 
cancer researcher at Michigan State University, observed 
that “to state with authority that DDT is harmless is 
impossible, and there is no scientist in the United States or 
anywhere else who would dare to stick out his neck by 
making such a statement.” 

As far back as 1951 the Public Health Service described 
DDT as a “delayed action poison,” explaining: 

“Due to the fact that it accumulates in the body tissues, 
especially in females, the repeated inhalation or ingestion 
of DDT constitutes a distinct health hazard. The deleter¬ 
ious effects are manifested principally in the liver, spleen, 
kidneys and spinal cord. 

“DDT is excreted in the milk of cows and of nursing 
mothers after exposure to DDT sprays and after consum¬ 
ing food contaminated with this poison. Children and in¬ 
fants especially are much more susceptible to poisoning 
than adults. . . . 

“A recent report from the National Cancer Institutes 
discloses that the inhalation of petroleum mists or fogs 
(used as carriers for DDT in sprays) has been incrimi¬ 
nated as a major cause of lung cancer and laryngeal can¬ 
cer. These types of cancer occur with overwhelming pre¬ 
dominance in men. . . .” 

Less easily masked than the chronic effects of DDT are 
the effects of acute poisoning; these are well established 
and easily recognized. There may be gastroenteritis, nau¬ 
sea, vomiting, abdominal pains, coughing and sore throat, 





BUG KILLERS IN EVERY BITE 


57 


similar to the symptoms of certain virus infections or the 
common cold. Other symptoms of acute poisoning in¬ 
clude pains in the joints, general muscular weakness and 
fatigue. Congestion of the lungs and pneumonia also are 
common findings. 

In chronic poisoning other symptoms may develop: 
hypersensitive skin areas and numbness, tingling sensa¬ 
tions, itching and headaches; the patient may develop 
twitching of the muscles and nerve involvement which in¬ 
terferes with walking. The brain also reveals signs of 
intoxication, such as loss of memory, inability to concen¬ 
trate, dizziness and “foggy” brain. Mental depression and 
emotional instability are not relieved by psychiatric help. 
There is a distaste for work and all forms of effort. But 
probably the most common complaint is a feeling of 
anxiety and apprehension; many victims have used the 
identical expression: “I felt like I was going to die.” Dr. 
Biskind has raised the possibility that DDT is implicated 
in many of the new viruslike ailments reported since World 
War II. Other investigators have traced the viruslike “X- 
disease” in livestock to chlorinated hydrocarbons that ap¬ 
peared in crankcase oil that was ingested by cattle when 
they tried to lick grain off farm equipment, or when they 
ate feeds that were processed on machines lubricated with 
this oil. These poisons were chemical cousins of DDT. 
The disease could also be produced by feeding the cows 
batches of commercial feed; the poison was found in their 
milk. 

However, it is not the clinically apparent effects of DDT 
poisoning that are the primary concern of doctors who are 
familiar with the pesticide problem. It is the effects of 
long-term exposure which cannot be identified or mea¬ 
sured with present medical diagnostic tools. In this re¬ 
spect they resemble injuries due to fallout or X rays; al¬ 
though the damage often cannot be seen or proved, it is 
nevertheless, there; it may take ten, twenty, thirty or more 
years to appear, depending on the individual. 

Virtually nothing is known about the long-term effects 
of DDT. It is an acknowledged delayed-action poison, so 
everything about it has been studied except its delayed 
effects. The AMA’s Council on Foods and Nutrition, not¬ 
ing “the appalling lack of factual data” on the effects of 
the new pesticides when ingested with foods, stated: “The 


58 THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 

chronic toxicity to man of most of the newer insecticides 
is entirely unexplored.” 

Two California investigators, the late Dr Francis Pot- 
tenger, Jr., and Dr. Bernard Krohn, testified that “the re¬ 
ported cases of insecticide deaths were the spectacular 
ones, involving swift death from massive exposure. Path¬ 
ological diagnosis was made at autopsy. But many other 
patients may die slowly from insecticides without the true 
cause of their death being recognized.” 

These researchers observed that rats fed chlorinated 
hydrocarbon insecticides showed higher mortality than 
did the controls. “Yet the tissues of the anim als showed 
no changes at autopsy, demonstrating how easily such 
toxicity might escape notice. In short, one could not prove 
the diagnosis of insecticide toxicity in these animals by 
clinical or laboratory methods. But their lives were short¬ 
ened by insecticides. We shall never know how many hu¬ 
mans suffer similarly.” 

Various other studies with rats, mice, rabbits, guinea 
pigs, cats, dogs, Chicks, goats, sheep, cattle, horses, mon¬ 
keys and fish have shown that DDT causes functional dis¬ 
turbances and degenerative changes in the skin, liver, gall 
bladder, lungs, kidneys, spleen, thyroid, adrenals, ovaries, 
testicles, heart muscle blood vessels, voluntary 1 muscles, 
the brain and spinal cord and peripheral nerves, gastro¬ 
intestinal tract and blood. 

While animals and humans differ in their response to 
poisons, it was pointed out in the Yearbook of the Ameri¬ 
can Journal of Public Health that “contrary to previous 
beliefs, it now seems likely that a substance which is poi¬ 
sonous to one form of life is very apt to be found to some 
degree toxic for other animals, including men.” 

The implications this statement holds for man w r ere 
dramatized by an experiment conducted by Dr. Robert F 
Mobbs when he was plant physician for a North Carolina 
factory that mixed DDT and BHC. A child who lived 
about three hundred feet from the factory became sick 
and died in convulsions. Dr. Mobbs, suspecting the in¬ 
secticides as the cause, placed six rabbits in the plant; 
within a short time all the rabbits were dead—their tissues 
showing changes identical to those of the child. 

DDT also has been shown to destroy vitamins and in¬ 
hibit the body’s delicate enzyme systems. “The fact that 
a very small amount of a biological poison is ultimately 




BUG KILLERS IN EVERY BITE 


59 


able to effect a relatively enormous weight of animal tissue 
shows that the poison interferes with an essential link in 
a chain of vital processes,” according to Dr. John J. Mill¬ 
er, Chicago biologist. 

DDT also has been implicated in the phenomenal rise 
in liver ailments in recent years. Dr. W. Coda Martin, 
who has done extensive pesticide research, says that by 
damaging the liver DDT brings on the “slow, progressive, 
internal deterioration of the tissues and cells of the body.” 
The old methods of detection and control are not applica¬ 
ble to the present situation, which is assuming epidemic 
proportions, he believes. 

Cirrhosis of the liver became one of the country’s top 
ten killers in 1957, and cases of hepatitis reportedly have 
shown a 100 per cent increase between 1955 and 1957. 
A New York Hospital study group recently stated its 
belief that a direct relationship existed between hepatitis 
cases and DDT in food. The University of Minnesota 
Medical School has expressed puzzlement over a “striking 
increase” in the prevalence of hepatic necrosis in the ten- 
year period from 1946 through 1955. The DDT-happy 
U.S. Army also has been concerned about the rise in 
hepatitis cases. 

DDT is absorbed by the body through the mouth, lungs 
and skin, accumulating in the fatty tissues in many times 
the amount that would be acutely fatal if injected into a 
vein in a single dose. Of twenty cadavers examined at 
random in California by the FDA, organic pesticides of 
the DDT type were found in nineteen. Liver damage was 
found in sixteen of the twenty cadavers. The patients died 
of such diseases as cancer, heart disease and pneumonia. 
It is not possible to blame DDT positively, in whole or in 
part, for these deaths, but neither can it escape a cloud of 
suspicion. 

The amounts of DDT we consume and store in our 
bodies are measured in parts per million (ppm). In com¬ 
mon terms one ppm equals about one teaspoonful of DDT 
in ten tons of food. This poison is so potent that I DA 
tests showed that rats fed only 5 ppm DDT in their diet 
suffered liver injury. Dr. Biskind has pointed out that “it 
is a rare food that escapes contamination with amounts | of 
DDT] often greatly in excess of that known to produce 
liver damage in animals.” 

In a scries of tests run on New Yorkers in 1955 it was 


60 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


found that more than 25 per cent had over 5 ppm DDT 
stored in their bodies, the highest concentration being in 
the body of an infant. In a U. S. Public Health Service 
study of 113 subjects, DDT content ranged up to 68 ppm, 
averaging 6.41 ppm. Two DDT handlers had 91 and 291 
ppm respectively. The Public Health Service has esti¬ 
mated that the national average of DDT storage in fat is 
about 5 ppm, but some objective investigators believe it is 
closer to 9 ppm—and rising steadily. 

The Journal of the American Medical Association has 
pointed out that DDT in the fatty tissue is not like butter 
stored in an icebox, but that the cell has a constant turn¬ 
over; there is a rich blood supply and the use of the fat 
is regulated by endocrine, enzyme and nerve influences. 
The JAMA said it appears to be a reasonable assumption 
that fatty tissue which has “these many important func¬ 
tions can be influenced by the presence of cumulative poi¬ 
sons such as the chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides.” 

Further, the Journal warned, the level below which ad¬ 
verse long-range effects are absent is unknown, and the 
influence of the stored compounds may not be limited to 
the fatty tissue but may influence the ability of the body 
to manufacture hormones and utilize vitamins. 

Incredibly little is known about what happens to these 
poisons in the body. Some are known to break down into 
more toxic substances; others have been found to have 
what is called a synergistic effect—they make one another 
more poisonous than they originally were. As Dr. Leh¬ 
man pointed out, chemicals also may combine with the 
food they are in to form new poisons, and time may 
change chemicals compositions. 

A little known hazard of DDT storage is that any sud¬ 
den weight loss, due to reducing or illness, would burn up 
the fat rapidly, releasing large amounts of DDT into the 
blood stream, possibly causing an attack of acute poison¬ 
ing—a special threat to children because of their high fat 
content and sudden weight drops due to childhood sick¬ 
nesses. Doctors generally are so uninformed about this 
hazard that in such cases few would consider the possibil¬ 
ity of DDT poisoning. 

Since DDT produces symptoms that resemble many ail¬ 
ments, it is known to mask other diseases; some research¬ 
ers claim it produces a condition easily mistaken, during 
epidemics, for polio. Because DDT is a nerve poison it 





BUG KILLERS IN EVERY BITE 


61 


may damage cells in the spinal cord, increasing suscepti¬ 
bility to polio and other ailments. 

Despite the voluminous evidence pointing to the harm¬ 
fulness of DDT, its champions still insist it is safe for 
humans. Their primary claim is based on an experiment 
in which human volunteers demonstrated they could tol¬ 
erate substantially large daily jolts of the poison over sev¬ 
eral months without apparent ill effects. 

This study, as the Journal of the American Medical As¬ 
sociation noted, was “the first experimental study of the 
storage, excretion, and possible clinical effects in man of 
DDT given in many small doses.” The experiment was 
made in 1955— JO years after DDT had been in wide¬ 
spread use in foods. It was conducted by the U. S. Pub¬ 
lic Health Service, which had released DDT for use on 
the food of America’s millions a decade earlier without 
first learning what the chronic effects would be on multi¬ 
tudes of people. 

At that late date (1955), the PHS could hardly afford 
to have the test show that it had made a mistake ten years 
earlier. The PHS, sitting as judge and jury to evaluate 
evidence supplied by its own investigators, completely 
vindicated its decision to permit the use of DDT in foods. 

The highly publicized test was conducted in a Federal 
prison where a group of volunteers ate up to two hundred 
times as much DDT as appears in the ordinary diet for up 
to eighteen months, allegedly without harm. Results of 
the study were published in the Journal of the American 
Medical Association, and this report has been widely 
quoted as proof of DDT’s alleged harmlessness for man. 
Since it is the primary study on which the safety of the 
American people must rest, it demands critical examina¬ 
tion. 

The experiment was conducted by Dr. Wayland Hayes, 
former head of the toxicology section of the Technical 
Development Service, Communicable Disease Center of 
the U. S. Public Health Service. After getting his medical 
degree in 1946, Dr. Hayes entered the Public Health -Ser¬ 
vice. His attitude toward DDT was expressed before the 
Delaney Committee when he testified that DDT causes 
definite changes in the livers of rats fed it, but he would 
not characterize these changes as damage. Just changes. 
“Its interpretation is going to require further scientific 
study,” he stated. 


62 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


Dr. Hayes’s celebrated feeding test began with fifty-one 
prisoners. At the end of a year only fourteen men were 
still in it. At the conclusion of the study after eighteen 
months there were just four men—hardly a representative 
cross section of the American people. 

Because this handful of men allegedly withstood large 
doses of DDT for a relatively short time without percep¬ 
tible harm, it was concluded that it is safe for some 
175,000,000 Americans to ingest small portions of this 
cumulative poison in their food three times daily, year 
after year. 

The report implies that DDT is harmless as a component 
of the human diet, stating that after about a year DDT 
storage in the body reaches a maximum “and thereafter 
(people) store no more of the material despite continued 
intake.” 

Analysis of the report suggests that its conclusions have 
been quoted more than they have been analyzed. Dr. 
Hayes’s own charts do not seem to bear out his own 
findings. 

Of eleven controls in the experiment, eight showed more 
DDT stored in their bodies when they left the experiment 
than when they began. One subject showed a rise of al¬ 
most 30 ppm of DDT after only four months’ participa¬ 
tion. Other controls also showed substantial gains. 

The controls were men who ate the regular prison diet 
without extra doses of DDT. The fact that they continued 
to build up DDT in their bodies throughout the experi¬ 
ment supports the findings of independent researchers who 
say that Americans generally are constantly storing more 
and more DDT, depending on the amount ingested, with¬ 
out any leveling-off point. 

Dr. Pottenger testified in a 1958 court action that he 
believes Americans today have three to ten times as much 
DDT stored in their body fat as in 1950. One of his pa¬ 
tients, he said, had 5 ppm in 1949, and in 1953 the same 
patient had 23 ppm. Another patient’s DDT content rose 
from 3.8 ppm in 1949 to 173 ppm in 1955. 

To assume that it is safe to have DDT in the cells of 
the body, even if storage does level off, is like saying that 
because there is always alcohol in the blood of a heavy 
drinker it is not harmful. 

Dr. Martin cited the medical argument against the pres¬ 
ence of DDT in the body of man when he testified: “DDT 





BUG KILLERS IN EVERY BITE 


63 


affects the enzyme system which controls the supply of 
oxygen to the individual cells. The greater the concentra¬ 
tion, the greater the damage. There isn’t a cell in the body 
that isn’t affected by DDT.” 

Every private physician I know of who has published 
papers on the effects of DDT has emphasized that a person 
may go along for many years without a sign of DDT 
poisoning. Then, suddenly, he will have accumulated his 
individual toxic limit. Disease or even death may follow— 
without anyone’s being able to pinpoint the real culprit. 
The fact that a person dies of a heart attack or cancer 
doesn’t tell what brought on the fatal ailment. Is the DDT 
in the body a direct or indirect cause of disease or death? 
Who can say? 

No short-term feeding test like the Hayes study could 
even begin to answer the complex questions posed by the 
use of DDT and other poisons in the daily diet. Twelve or 
eighteen months is a short period in the life of a man; it 
is not long enough to tell what happens to the person in¬ 
gesting these substances, nor does it tell what happens to 
his descendants—but animal experiments indicate there 
may be severe repercussions. 

Probably the sharpest critic of the Hayes study has been 
Dr. Biskind, who called it “an intricate, carefully contrived 
and ingeniously composed document, perhaps a classic of 
its kind.” 

He pointed out that the study ignored the tremendous 
differences in the way individuals react to poisons, burying 
individual findings in group averages; certain comparable 
medical data on the subjects at the beginning and end of 
the experiment were lacking, and complaints of the sub¬ 
jects which could not be confirmed by laboratory tests were 
dismissed or called psychoneurotic in origin. 

The experiment, Dr. Biskind noted, was said by its 
authors to have shown that “no volunteer complained of 
any symptoms or showed, by the tests used, any sign of 
illness that did not have an easily recognized cause clearly 
unrelated t» exposure to DDT.” 

The Hayes report. Dr. Biskind observed, does not state 
that these signs and symptoms could not have been caused 
by DDT but only that they could “easily” find another ex¬ 
planation. “For instance, one of the subjects complained 
of ‘pain every day in every bone, occasional headache, and 
tearing of the right eye.’ Say the authors, ‘His complaints 


64 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


obviously were of psychoneurotic origin.’ ” Dr. Biskind 
pointed out that British scientists who exposed themselves 
to DDT complained of symptoms almost identical to the 
complaining subject in the Hayes test. “Were their com¬ 
plaints also of psychoneurotic origin?” he asked. 

Other objections to the study were that it ignored the 
fact that Federal prisoners have a more carefully regulated 
life (and diet) than most of the population, which would 
make the prisoners less susceptible to the effects of poisons; 
it ignored the fact that all the subjects were males, ack¬ 
nowledged by the Public Health Service in an earlier state¬ 
ment to be considerably more resistant to the effects of 
DDT than women, children and infants; it ignored the fact 
that the public is made up of the strong and the weak, 
young and old, healthy and sick; it ignored the fact that 
the subjects began the experiment with DDT already stored 
in their bodies, so the initial impact could not be meas¬ 
ured; it ignored the fact that even the controls had DDT 
stored in their cells and they ingested it daily in their regu¬ 
lar meals throughout the experiment; and that the study 
was concerned with DDT and DDE (a derivative of DDT) 
only, at a time when DDT had been largely replaced by 
even more toxic compounds, and the average person’s 
daily diet certainly contained residue of a dozen or more 
pesticides other than DDT. 

The experiment, according to Dr. Biskind, also omitted 
pertinent medical data on the prisoners’ condition and 
ignored what appeared to be adverse results in some of the 
subjects. It presented no medical follow-up on what later 
happened to the experimental group. There is no guarantee 
that some of the subjects ultimately will not be doomed to 
serious ailments as a result of having participated in the 
tests. 

Also noteworthy is the fact that the physical examina¬ 
tions on the prisoners were made by Dr. Hayes personally; 
his assistants were technicians. By his own admission, his 
previous clinical experience with patients was limited to a 
one-year internship in a government hospital; he never 
engaged in private practice. No other physician checked 
his findings, as far as is known. 

Dr. Hayes’s failure to find physical damage from the 
DDT fed to the prisoners, regardless of how thorough his 
methods or good his intentions, is no proof that the dam¬ 
age did not take place. It only means that he and his asso¬ 
ciates did not find such damage, according to their report. 




BUG KILLERS IN EVERY BITE 


65 


The point that failure to find injury is no guarantee that 
injury did not occur is nicely made by Dr. Ian Stevenson, 
a physician, who wrote in Harper’s Magazine (April 1949) 
that there are three states of ill health: “The first is a 
functional impairment or misuse which is often impossible 
to detect and may not be noticed by the patient or his 
physician; the second brings definite symptoms of illness; 
the third brings structural changes. . . . 

“To try to learn about an ailment under such circum¬ 
stances is something like trying to learn about chess by 
watching only the last moves of a game between experts, 
unaware that the outcome is frequently decided in the first 
moves.” 

The late appearance of structural changes is food for 
thought in view of the “changes” DDT produces in the 
livers of rats fed much less DDT than most people have 
stored in their bodies. Dr. Stevenson, unlike Dr. Hayes, 
apparently did not think that such physical alterations 
needed interpretation. To him, tissue changes were the 
most drastic manifestation of ill health. 

A more subtle form of damage that can elude the re¬ 
searcher was cited by the late Dr. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, a 
biochemist. He said that one weakness of feeding tests 
like the one conducted by Dr. Hayes was that experiment¬ 
ers look out for poisoning effects in terms of common 
toxicology. “The minimum lethal dose is determined and 
gross poisoning effects are looked for,” he said. What 
counts, however, and what passes unnoticed, are the often 
unnoticed dynamic and systemic changes which cannot be 
easily discovered.” 

In brief, the Hayes study did not prove that it is safe to 
eat DDT in repeated doses, small or large, over a lifetime. 
It proved nothing except that a small group of men, who 
had already demonstrated their ability to withstand repeat¬ 
ed small doses of DDT in their regular diet, could with¬ 
stand substantially large amounts without immediate dis¬ 
astrous consequences. 

( 2 ) 

Congress legalized mass poisoning of the American 
people by granting the FDA the right to determine how 
much poison residue may remain on marketed food -a 
right granted under the Miller Pesticide Act of 1954. The 
permitted amount of residue is known as a poison’s tolcr- 


66 


THE POISONS IN YOUB FOOD 


ance. DDT, for example, had a tolerance of seven ppm 
on single items of food. Chlordane’s tolerance is 0.3 ppm. 
Some pesticide poisons are so lethal they carry a zero 
tolerance—not even a trace is supposed to remain when 
they are marketed. 

These tolerances were established on the basis of 
amounts known to produce injury in animals. 

Through odd circumstances, however, the tolerance 
level for DDT was recently lowered. In 1968 West Ger¬ 
many, after an extensive testing program, established a 
tolerance for DDT of only one part per million—just one- 
seventh as high as that of the United States. Were Ger¬ 
mans seven times more fragile than people in the United 
States, or were our scientists seven times more optimis¬ 
tic? The Germans also cut the tolerance of other pesticide 
residue drastically below U. S. figures, establishing zero 
tolerances for chlordane and dieldrin; both of these can 
remain as residues on some food products in the U. S. 

Soon after the Germans announced their new toler¬ 
ances, the U. S. sent a delegation to Bonn to ask them to 
reconsider. The U. S. wasn’t as concerned about the health 
aspect as about what the lower tolerances would do to 
trade: American exports would be stopped by Belgium 
and the Netherlands, which had tolerances similar to those 
of the Germans. But the Europeans wouldn’t relent. 
Consequently the U. S. cut its tolerance of DDT to 3.5 
parts per million on most crops—one half of what it had 
been previously, and to one and 1.5 on a few other crops. 

Before the Miller Act was passed, FDA had virtually no 
control over the production or use of pesticides. Manu¬ 
facturers were not required to test their products to prove 
their “harmlessness” for humans before using these poisons 
on crops and animals eaten by humans. The Miller bill 
was designed to give some control over the use of these 
substances. 

The FDA, after considerable prompting, sent me some 
figures to show how effective the Miller Act has been. Of 
536 domestically grown fruits and vegetables tested during 
a 13-month period, ending in 1956, 11.9 per cent ex¬ 
ceeded their tolerance. Of 912 imported fruits and vege¬ 
tables tested, 8.6 per cent were above tolerance. Of sam¬ 
ples tested for DDT, 9 per cent were over tolerance. Of 
those tested for endrin—so powerful it has a zero toler¬ 
ance—44 per cent were over tolerance. 




BUG KILLERS IN EVERY BITE 


67 


The number of tests was disturbingly small, but the per¬ 
centage of violations is even more alarming. The report 
covered analysis of fruits and vegetables only and included 
just sixteen major cities throughout the United States. 

Despite the number of violations, only 21 seizures were 
made for excess residue. Six were for too much poison on 
wheat and barley. The figures released pertain to excess 
residue on vegetables and fruits only, but almost one third 
of the seizures were for excess residue on wheat and bar¬ 
ley. In the first two months of 1957, according to the 
government report, there were 14 seizures—13 of them 
for contaminated wheat and oats. Why did the FDA fail 
to state the percentage of highly-treated grains found to 
be over tolerance? 

The public is not always so lucky as it was when, on 
January 6, 1956, the FDA reported that two freight cars 
loaded with 30,816 heads of lettuce containing excess pest¬ 
icide contamination were seized in a spot check. On 
another occasion, a shipment of mustard greens was seized 
after several Californians who ate them became ill; tests 
showed the green contained nicotine residue of 70 to 
90 ppm. Nicotine has a tolerance of 2 ppm. In a 1955 
seizure, 83 of 140 samples of frozen vegetables were 
found to have “high residues” of a “highly toxic dust” 
(unidentified) that was not even supposed to be used on 
such crops. Consequently, 190,000 pounds of frozen broc¬ 
coli and kale had to be destroyed. 

When the late Dr. L. G. Cox of the Beech-Nut Packing 
Company appeared before the Delaney Committee, he 
testified that the firm was spending $100,000 a year try¬ 
ing to control the pesticide-residue problem and he re¬ 
cited numerous cases in which crops were rejected because 
of dangerous amounts of residue. Was this highly con¬ 
taminated produce destroyed? It was not, according to 
his testimony. Instead it was sold in the open market or 
to less particular processors. 

Excessive residue found by Beech-Nut have been con¬ 
firmed by numerous other private analyses. Recent DDT 
tests conducted by the Laboratory of Industrial Hygiene. 
Inc., in New York showed egg yolks containing up to 
50 ppm, cheese 70 ppm, and butter up to 10 ppm. Dr. 
W. Coda Martin reported that private analysis showed 
DDT residue of 150 ppm on cheese, and butter might run 
as high as 2000 ppm. 


68 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


When the Public Health Service analyzed DDT residue, 
during a four-day testing period, in the ordinary meals in 
the Federal prison where the Hayes feeding tests were con¬ 
ducted, it caught stewed dried fruit with 69 ppm DDT 
content and bread with 100 ppm. Contamination in the 
bread was blamed on the lard, but private investigators 
calculated that if all the contamination was in the lard, it 
would have amounted to 2500 ppm DDT. 

Another indication of what might be slipping past in¬ 
spectors was supplied by John M. Dendy, head of the 
analytical division of Texas Research Foundation, who 
tested milk and meat samples for their DDT content. He 
testified before the Delaney Committee that all milk and 
meat samples his organization bought in supermarkets 
were found to be contaminated. Contamination ranged 
from 3.10 ppm DDT in lean meat to 68.55 ppm in the 
fat; and in milk it ranged from less than 0.5 ppm DDT to 
13.83 ppm. 

When DDT was released in 1945, the USDA recom¬ 
mended its use on cows and in dairy bams. Four years 
later, however, the recommendation was withdrawn—after 
investigators belatedly learned that even if DDT was used 
merely in the barns, with feeding troughs covered, and the 
cows kept outside while it was being applied, the poison 
would appear in the milk within twenty-four hours. 

For many years the FDA took the strong position that 
no pesticide residue whatsoever could be permitted in 
milk; this made it illegal for milk containing any DDT to 
pass from one state to another. 

The FDA’s Frank A. Vorhes, Jr., has pointed out that 
processing eliminated some residue from most products, 
but “once incurred in milk ... a residue will ordinarily be 
consumed in its entirety.” He said milk constitutes not the 
average 25 percent, but a preponderance of the diet of that 
segment of the population to which potential harm from 
pesticide residues is probably the greatest. “For the weak, 
the sick, the very young, and the aged, milk can represent 
close to 100 percent of the nutrient intake, and supplant 
most of the water intake as well.” 

This forthright statement notwithstanding, many ob¬ 
servers found it impossible to understand why DDT was 
safe in foods and dangerous in milk in any degree whatso¬ 
ever. Certainly the weak, the sick, the very young, and 
the aged are all going to get some food, and virtually all 




BUG KILLERS IN EVERY BITE 


69 


of it contains DDT and related poisons. Babies are getting 
some DDT in baby foods, despite any precautions taken 
to hold down the amount, and infants are getting contam¬ 
inated milk from their mothers; in one series of tests pri¬ 
vate investigators found 116 ppm DDT in mother’s milk. 

FDA, however, stuck to its unwavering opposition to 
pesticide residue in milk. Early in 1958 it denied toler¬ 
ances to two substances—malathion and methoxychlor— 
both considered less toxic than DDT. FDA flatly stated 
that residues were unacceptable in milk in any degree 
whatsoever and the tolerance level for both substances 
would remain zero. 

Despite this forthright action on behalf of pure milk, 
FDA disclosed that tests of 800 milk samples from all 
parts of the country showed residue in 62 per cent of the 
milk examined; other dairy products also showed a high 
percentage of contamination, with residue in 75 per cent 
of the butter and 50 per cent of the cheese sampled. In 
similar tests, from 1948 through 1951, DDT was found in 
25 per cent of the milk sampled. 

Other tests were said to reveal contamination ranging 
from traces of poison to serious amounts present. But 
FDA admitted that none of the poisoned milk was seized 
and there were no prosecutions. An educational campaign 
was said to be continuing—although farmers had been get¬ 
ting educated to keep DDT away from dairies and cattle 
forage since 1949. Since the educational program began, 
violations had shot up 37 per cent. 

In 1968 the government finally realized the hopelessness 
of trying to keep pesticides out of milk and set a tolerance 
for DDT, DDD and DDE: 0.05 ppm for whole milk and 
1.25 ppm for milk fat. There is still no tolerance for other 
pesticides in milk, including the less toxic methoxychlor, 
which is less likely to appear and thus can be excluded. 
Since tolerances were set FDA has condemned large quan¬ 
tities of milk. But is too optimistic to hope that most milk 
on the market is within tolerance; it is almost beyond hope 
to look for a glass free of all contamination. 

Most of the contamination of milk allegedly comes from 
feeding cattle sprayed forage, a practice FDA repeatedly 
has condemned. But farmers, after spraying their corn, 
are reluctant to waste the stalks. In 1955 the California 
Department of Agriculture reported that 10,000 tons of 
silage made from sweet corn stalks and leaves contained 


70 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


DDT residue as high as 250 ppm. What this might mean 
to the person drinking milk from cows fed this fodder was 
indicated by a witness before the Delaney Committee. He 
said that hay made from sprayed alfalfa with an average 
DDT residue of 7-8 ppm was fed to dairy cows; after the 
first few days of feeding, the DDT content in the milk was 
about 2.3 to 3 ppm. Butter made from the milk, because 
of the concentrated fat, contained 65 ppm DDT. 

At the same time that the sharp rise in contaminated 
milk was taking place, Paul A. Clifford of the FDA noted 
that many pesticides other than DDT were coming into 
common use. He observed that “residues of lindane, 
technical BHC, methoxychlor, rhothane, heptachlor, toxa- 
phene, chlordane, members of the aldrin group perthane, 
dilane, lethane, and others might be encountered in milk.” 

Mr. Clifford made the remarkable admission that “for 
most of these no specific test method exists.” This means 
the government has no way of knowing what to look for 
or how to measure the amount present, except with crude 
tests based on the number of flies killed. When specific 
tests could be made, Mr. Clifford revealed, as many as four 
individual insecticides were found in single milk samples. 

In addition to the DDT compounds, there were residues 
of the super-powerful organic phosphate pesticides. More 
than one third of the contaminated butter samples were 
said to contain the parathion-type insecticides, members 
of this family. Mr. Clifford said “a further complication 
was recognized from the start” because “little is known 
about the metabolism of most of these products; some or 
all might degrade to unknown products of unknown 
toxicity.” 

The problem is neatly illustrated by heptachlor, a chlor¬ 
inated hydrocarbon, which in 1950 was given a tolerance 
of 0.1 ppm on thirty-four raw argicultural commodities, 
including fruit, vegetables, grain and forage crops. In late 
1959, however, the FDA discovered that, largely as a re¬ 
sult of weathering, the chemical was converted to hepta¬ 
chlor epoxide, which is even more toxic than the parent 
heptachlor. The FDA noted that when heptachlor epox¬ 
ide was fed to cows (as it would be on forage) it was 
“deposited in their milk and meat.” 

FDA claimed that heptachlor epoxide had not been 
identified on crops sooner because no detection method 
was available. Unmentioned was a 1953 report FDA re- 






BUG KILLERS IN EVERY BITE 


71 


searchers published stating that heptachlor was trans¬ 
formed to heptachlor epoxide in animal bodies. Why 
wasn’t the detection method used on animals applied to 
crops? 

In its 1959 statement the FDA said that additional stud¬ 
ies showed that the combined residues of heptachlor and 
heptachlor epoxide “were likely” to exceed the 0.1 ppm 
tolerance and there was no evidence that such residues 
would be safe. The FDA then proposed a zero tolerance 
for heptachlor, after the public had been consuming it and 
its more toxic derivative for more than a decade. 

The same problem that existed with milk plagued the 
FDA with meat for several years. It was against the law 
for poisons to be in meat, but contamination was univer¬ 
sal. Finally this embarrassment was neatly resolved: 
contamination was made legal. In 1957 FDA fixed a tol¬ 
erance of 7 ppm for DDT in the fat of cattle, hogs and 
sheep. There still is no tolerance for poisons in lean meat, 
although it would be impossible to find any that is 
uncontaminated. 

One factor that makes DDT so effective as an insecti¬ 
cide also makes it so treacherous for man—its amazing 
persistence. In an extraordinary feeding demonstration, 
researchers applied DDT to hay growing in the field, fed 
the hay to beef animals, slaughtered the cows and fed 
their flesh to pigs, which in turn were slaughtered and 
analyzed; after these two complete digestions the DDT 
was found to remain intact. It has been sprayed on the 
outside of boxes of raisins, and the fruit inside became 
contaminated. Baggage cars sprayed with it have con¬ 
taminated subsequent food shipments. Grains suffer heavy 
contamination from treated elevators and storage areas. 

How tenaciously DDT clings to human flesh was shown 
by a Public Health Experiment with two men who worked 
with insecticides. When originally tested they showed 91 
and 291 ppm DDT in their body fat. The report said that 
“even after prolonged rest from their occupations (in the 
first case two years) the DDT levels in the fat were still 
30 and 240 ppm.” 

The poison is equally stable in soil. Seven years after 
DDT was applied to test plots, 80 per cent still remained. 
Each year’s spraying builds up the amount of poison in 
the ground; in orchards it has been found in amounts up 
to 113 pounds per acre under trees. It has been demon- 




72 


THE POISONS IN YOUB FOOD 


strated that chlorinated hydrocarbons in the soil are ab¬ 
sorbed by crops grown in that soil. Some plants absorb 
poisons in greater concentration than their concentration 
in the soil. Investigations have shown that heavily treated 
soils produce crops of inferior quality and taste, and such 
impairment may take place before growth and yield are 
affected. 

Dr. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer cited recent tests in Germany 
which showed that following DDT spraying “the protein 
nitrogen of Boston lettuce was reduced from 75 per cent 
of the total nitrogen to 64.9 per cent. The sugar was in¬ 
creased from 21.59 per cent to 24.51 per cent; ascorbic 
acid (vitamin C) was reduced from 606 mg. per cent to 
442 mg. per cent, as against the untreated control.” 

This biochemist also referred to other experiments in 
Germany, in which sprayed vegetables (carefully washed 
to remove all possible outside adhering DDT) were fed to 
animals: “During the first year, only the weight curves of 
the male animals were lower than the one of the control. 
During the second year, the weight curves of the male and 
female animals were lower than the controls, which got 
untreated vegetables. After the second year of the feeding 
test autopsies of the animals showed significant changes of 
liver and spleen. The liver showed shrinkage. . . . The 
spleen showed an even more pronounced decrease in 
weight.” Similar tests have not been carried out in the 
United States. 

The threat to crops and humans alike has been dis¬ 
covered only belatedly in many pesticides that were in¬ 
troduced to the sound of trumpets. Among them was ben¬ 
zene hexachloride (BHC). It was heralded as deadly for 
all kinds of harmful insects but “relatively harmless for 
humans.” Annual sales hit 98,000,000 pounds before 
government researchers found BHC appearing in the 
brain tissues of laboratory animals and producing abnor¬ 
mal cancerlike cell growth elsewhere. Having a tolerance 
of 5 ppm, it is, despite this evidence, still used on many 
citrus fruits and vegetables. BHC is so stable that it re¬ 
tains up to half its original strength in the soil after three 
years, migrating into crops grown in the contaminated 
earth. Many processors have objected to it because it 
gives an off flavor to certain foods, if for no other reason. 
Benzene hexachloride and chlordane have been found to 
be active in soil twelve years after they were applied to it. 




BUG KILLERS IN EVERY BITE 


73 


In 1953 Dr. Mobbs testified before a Congressional 
committee that previous testimony given to the FDA and 
the Delaney Committee about the dangers of BHC was 
ignored. He said the testimony pointed out that BHC 
destroys an important vitamin, inositol, which he said has, 
perhaps, a more beneficial effect in preventing hardening 
of the arteries than any other substance. Dr. Mobbs 
added: 

“One thing that shocked me was the fact that the Amer¬ 
ican Cancer Society not too long ago gave a grant to the 
professor of biochemistry at Columbia in which he used 
benzene hexachloride to produce abnormal cell formation 
or cancerlike changes and then used inositol to try to 
overcome those things, and yet at the same time we are 
using BHC ... in a fashion in which it contaminates 
crops, gets in the milk supply, it is now used in many 
restaurants and in home vaporizing devices.’’ During the 
Korean war, he said, “BHC was used to dust troops and 
prisoners.” 

While the public plays its guinea-pig role to determine 
the effects of chronic poisoning by pesticides, it must de¬ 
pend on the farmer to follow instructions carefully if it 
is not to be exterminated suddenly, along with the bugs, 
by an unintentional overdose of the things. To stay with¬ 
in legal tolerances, for whatever protection this may offer, 
the farmer must use the exact concentration prescribed, 
apply the material as directed, and wait the required num¬ 
ber of days after applying the poison before marketing 
his crops. This assumes that the farmer will read the di¬ 
rections on the label and that he can and will follow them. 
This is the public’s “margin of safety.” But what if a 
farmer doses his crops and only a couple of days later 
there is a particularly favorable market for his produce? 
Will he pass up the sale and wait the specified number of 
days or weeks, risking a lower profit or even a monetary 
loss? 

And what assurance has the public that the spray is 
properly applied? When the late Charles Wesley Dunn, 
general counsel for the Grocery Manufacturers of Amer¬ 
ica, Inc., was supporting the tolerance concept for pesti¬ 
cides, he testified that he had heard his own farm man¬ 
ager in Vermont “say any number of times, when he came 
to the problem of using an insecticide in growing our own 
crops, ‘Well, if it is good in the quantity that it is rccom- 



74 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 

mended, it ought to be twice as good if I use twice as 
much,’ and so he would use an excessive amount.” Are 
we to believe that human nature has changed since pass¬ 
age of the Miller Act? 

In many instances farmers have used the wrong insecti¬ 
cide at the wrong time. A California grower was caught 
“dropping a spoonful of parathion dust” into the crowns 
of plants to control mites even during the picking sea¬ 
son. In another case, reported by FDA, a lettuce farmer 
used chlordane, endrin, dieldrin, DDT, toxaphene, mala- 
thion, cryolite and rotenone on his crop “and still had 11 
days to go before harvest/” A third example concerned a 
farmer who used some four times as much nicotine spray 
as directions specified because the stuff was old and he 
supposed it had lost its potency. 

Another source of contamination that can send poison 
residues soaring is indiscriminate use of insecticides in re¬ 
tail markets. A New York doctor was recently in an ex¬ 
clusive food store when an employee began firing a DDT 
bomb all over the produce. The doctor wrote a letter of 
protest to the management. In reply he received an apol¬ 
ogy—along with the assurance that in the future the spray¬ 
ing would be withheld until after the store was closed for 
the night. 

Still another threat is revealed in recent charges that 
newly developed pesticides which proved “too hot” for the 
American market are being shipped abroad to countries 
that have taken fewer precautions—or none—to control 
pesticides. How many of these “hot” compounds may re¬ 
turn to America via contaminated food imports? In a 
parallel case involving preservatives, the chemical thiourea 
was banned in the United States after it was found to be 
highly toxic, but in 1956 it was found on oranges shipped 
into the United States from Mexico. 

Still another source of contamination is from mass aerial 
sprays unleashed by the government. Pests hit from the air 
have included gypsy moths, fruit flies, mosquitoes, fire ants 
and grasshoppers. The intensive grasshopper offensive in 
Colorado and other western states in the summer of 1958 
added untold amounts of poisons to those normally used on 
the oceans of wheat produced in the area. 

In 1957 some three million highly populated acres in 
New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania were soaked with 
three million pounds of DDT in an all-out assault to “erad- 




BUG KILLERS IN EVERY BITE 


75 


icate” gypsy moths. In the wake of the spraying there 
were unnumbered dead animals, dead fish, dead birds, 
dead bees, damaged paint jobs on cars, food contaminated 
far in excess of legal limits, highly poisoned milk, outraged 
citizens, lawsuits—and live gypsy moths. 

Robert Cushman Murphy, retired curator of birds at 
the Museum of Natural History in New York and an in¬ 
ternationally famous naturalist, said the evidence builds up 
of “criminal negligence in damage to the natural environ¬ 
ment and a threat to human health. ... In all our history 
there is no more flagrant case of a bureaucratic attitude 
signifying The Public be damned!’ ” He called the 
$5,000,000 program of mass poisoning of man and his en¬ 
vironment a gigantic boondoggle. 

U. S. Department of Agriculture officials were taken to 
court by Mr. Murphy and other irate plaintiffs, who sought 
an injunction to prevent future sprayings. It was proved 
beyond question that in the sprayed area milk had been 
contaminated in direct violation of Federal law up to 14 
ppm and forage was poisoned so the contamination would 
be continued for many months. Dr. Hayes himself testified 
that it would be impossible to conduct such a spraying 
without contaminating milk produced in the area. But be¬ 
cause the plaintiffs could not produce a human corpse to 
prove that the spray was harmful to humans, the Federal 
judge ruled against the plaintiffs. 

Government witnesses revealed an incredible ignorance 
about what the effects Of the spray might be on man, wild¬ 
life or the environment. Two weeks before the spraying 
program started, another government agency had request¬ 
ed a Congressional appropriation to study the effects of 
such sprays. Even as government officials were admitting 
that virtually no research had been done to determine such 
effects, the USDA was starting an even more ambitious 
and deadly aerial spray program in the South—it blanket¬ 
ed 27,000,000 acres in nine southeastern states to try to 
eradicate the fire ant. 

The poisons used were dieldrin and hcptachlor at the 
rate of two pounds per acre. Both substances have a food 
tolerance of 0.1 ppm. Hcptachlor is said to be ten to fif¬ 
teen times as poisonous as DDT, and dieldrin is considered 
about twenty times more toxic. John H. Baker, former 
president of the Audubon Society, warned that "insecti¬ 
cide hazards may well rank in seriousness of adverse effects 


76 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


with the dangers of radioactive fallout.” He said “the use 
of toxic chemicals for the purpose of protecting agricul¬ 
tural and forest crops has now skyrocketed to the point 
where cumulative secondary poisoning of human beings 
and wildlife, which already exists to some extent, may be¬ 
come catastrophic.” 

After making its own ten-month investigation of the pro¬ 
gram, the Audubon Society said it resulted in “an alarming 
prompt kill of many species of wildlife,” and dead live¬ 
stock; it was begun without adequate information about 
the immediate or chronic effects of the poisons on people, 
crops, fire ants, livestock, wildlife, soil organisms or other 
life forms, and it upset the entire balance of nature within 
the sprayed area. 

Further, charged the usually conservative Audubon So¬ 
ciety, reports about the serious damage the ants allegedly 
caused to crops, livestock, wildlife and people were erron¬ 
eous; and the ant, in fact, had a beneficial effect by eating 
harmful insects. The Society accused the USDA of mak¬ 
ing untrue and misleading statements for propaganda pur¬ 
poses to get huge appropriations from Congress. 

While these massive chemical toxic storms have swept 
the earth, wiping out lower forms of life and poisoning the 
food supply, human beings have been subjected to addi¬ 
tional doses of insecticides in the course of their everyday 
life. DDT and other insecticides fairly drench hotels, 
motels, trains, theaters, golf courses, gardens, hospitals, 
public buildings, homes, public parks, textiles, dry-clean¬ 
ing fluids, even the public highways, leaving toxic vapors 
that remain for weeks and months, to be sucked into the 
lungs and to add to the toxic burden of the body. 

These direct and indirect sources of poison have made a 
farce of efforts to regulate the poison intake of humans. 
The Miller Act, concerned only with pesticides ingested in 
foods, offers phantom protection at best. 

To enforce its tolerances and patrol its realm of some 
96,000 food and drug installations, the FDA has only about 
300 inspectors, which enables it to send inspectors to visit 
each plant only about once every five years. Further, the 
FDA is responsible only for foods passing from one state 
to another. Most states do not have separate laws setting 
tolerances but leave the job of food protection up to the 
FDA. This means that in most states there is little or no 
supervision of foods not in interstate commerce. Some 






BUG KILLERS IN EVERY BITE 


77 


states—especially in the South—make virtually no provi¬ 
sions for enforcement of food laws, and practically none 
have the facilities to do their own testing. 

(3) 

Not only do pesticides threaten the health and lives of 
humans, but there is increasing evidence that they have 
failed in their basic bug-killing mission. Former Secretary 
of Agriculture Charles F. Brannan noted in the 1952 Year¬ 
book of Agriculture that the problem caused by insects 
seems to be bigger than ever. “We have more insect pests 
although we have better insecticides and better ways to 
fight them,” he said. 

The pest problem becomes increasingly acute because in¬ 
sects build up resistance to the newer pesticides—one prob¬ 
lem that never rose with the pre-World War II insecticides. 
Some flies now can take, without adverse effects, a thou¬ 
sand times the dose of DDT that killed their ancestors. In 
1956 the World Health Organization stated that there were 
thirty-six pests of public health importance with insecticide 
resistance, compared to one in 1946. 

Warning about the “most alarming” increase in the num¬ 
ber of resistant insects, the World Health Organization 
said: “The world may soon face an emergency because the 
resistance problem is intensifying day by day.” Dr. Leh¬ 
man of the FDA pointed out that, as the insects get more 
immune to the various poisons, “we have to continue mak¬ 
ing the poisons stronger.” 

Among the arsenal of progressively more powerful poi¬ 
sons are the systemic insecticides. These are made of the 
organic phosphates which are so fantastically potent that 
a single ounce in a thousand gallons of water can rid an 
acre of pests. One manufacturer of these compounds 
warns that after application workers should keep out of the 
treated fields for thirty days unless wearing protective 
clothes and masks—a warning that prompted Dr. Biskind 
to ask what happens to birds and other wildlife that can’t 
read. 

The technique applying the systemics calls for soaking 
the seeds of food plants in the poison so they absorb the 
stuff and it spreads through the entire plant as it grows; 
then when insects suck on the foliage they are killed; the 
plants thus are said to “bite back.” Theoretically the plant 
is supposed to convert the poison into a nontoxic substance 



78 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


after a period of time, but it is not known what new chem¬ 
icals the poison actually does break down into. The Farm 
Journal warned about one of these compounds that it “is 
short-lived, but when you put it on, it’s strong enough to 
kill humans and anim als, so be sure to follow the precau¬ 
tions on the label.” 

The primary drawback to all insecticides, other than their 
toxic effect on man, is that they disrupt what naturalists 
call the balance of nature. All living things in this world 
exist together in a series of interrelated balances, checks 
and counterchecks, just as the moon and the stars and the 
tides and the winds and the seasons exist in a profound 
harmony beyond man’s understanding. Nature preserves 
this biological balance by having different forms of life 
prey on others. When poisons are used to kill some forms 
of life, the natural delicate balance is upset. 

In some cases insects that were of no consequence have, 
as a result of sprayings, assumed serious economic im¬ 
portance. Typical of the kind of disastrous chain reaction 
that can be touched off when such a biological balance is 
upset is what happened when DDT began to kill off the 
natural predators that used to control mites. Mites were 
formerly of little economic importance, but after repeated 
DDT sprays destroyed their natural enemies, they them¬ 
selves became a serious problem. To keep mites in check, 
a pesticide called Aramite was developed. This compound 
holds such disastrous implications for human health and 
life that it is dealt with separately in the following chapter. 

Many naturalists feel that the only real solution to the 
pest problem must rest on a base of what is called biologi¬ 
cal warfare—introducing and encouraging natural enemies 
of pests to fight them; this would include insects, birds, 
viruses and fungus diseases. But, as G. C. Ullyett, a Can¬ 
adian biologist, pointed out, entomologists have ceased to 
be biologists and, in the majority of cases have become, 
in effect, mere testers of poisons or insecticide salesmen. 
Dr. Cox said that they have become chemical specialists. 
They have tried to apply a chemical solution to a biologi¬ 
cal problem. 

Instead of solving the bug problem, it has been pointed 
out, pesticides have only intensified and perpetuated it. 
They have wiped out astronomical numbers of beneficial 
insects, birds and other natural enemies of harmful insects. 
At the same time the pests have become poison-resistant. 




BUG KILLERS IN EVERY BITE 


79 


This has left man in an unfortunate position; he has killed 
vast numbers of his allies, surrounded himself with inde¬ 
structible enemies, and, in his frenzied effort to escape this 
trap he got himself into, he is gradually poisoning himself 
to death with ever more potent chemicals. The more des¬ 
perate his plight becomes, the more feverishly he plunges 
ahead with single-minded determination to create an anti¬ 
septic world, he is deaf to logic, blind to the evidence of 
his folly, smothering all opposition in new clouds of 
stronger poisons. 

Continuance in the present direction inevitably must end 
in disaster. There is now too much vested interest in error 
for government officials to admit their mistake and back 
down; the only alternative is to keep plunging ahead with 
stronger and stronger poisons. As pointed out, the antidote 
for one poison is more poison. 

One entomologist was moved to ask if man, in frustra¬ 
tion at the failure of all his efforts to wipe out every form 
of life that isn’t sympathetic to him, hadn’t perhaps lost his 
sense of judgment. 

But all appeals to reason are drowned out by a chorus of 
government and chemical propagandists predicting that we 
would all starve to death and insects would take over the 
world if it were not for sprays. In the frenzied effort to in¬ 
crease the sale of pesticides, no opposition is tolerated; 
those who suggest other ways to combat the pest menace 
feel the lash of ridicule and scorn. 

One of the few encouraging signs pointing toward a pos¬ 
sible end of this poison mania was the withdrawal, in 1957, 
of the Thompson Chemical Corporation of St. Louis from 
the manufacture of DDT. William Thompson, the firm’s 
president, stated that the ingestion “of presently employed 
insecticide residue by humans and other warm-blooded 
animals is a correlative problem of a highly serious [Mr. 
Thompson’s emphasis] nature. The industrial hazards in¬ 
herent in the indiscriminate wide-scale application of chem¬ 
icals of such highly toxic nature also causes concern.’’ 

Mr. Thompson said that continued use of present agri¬ 
cultural insecticides could deal a damaging blow to the na¬ 
tion’s farm economy. He warned that the use of nonsclcc- 
tive poisons—those that kill friend and foe alike—is upset¬ 
ting the balance of predator-parasite insects and "could 
easily cause heretofore unimportant insects to increase to 
the status of economic pests.” 


80 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


He pointed out that the effectiveness of the poisons 
against many pests was at best only temporary, and the 
whole problem was “becoming serious, economically very 
serious.” He said his decision to quit the production and 
sale of DDT insecticides was based on a twelve-year study 
of their effects. But the immediate decision followed an 
inspection trip he made through farm country. In some 
areas in the South, he said, the resistance problem was so 
bad that several farmers were forced out of business and 
were compelled to turn their farms into grass in an effort 
to restore them. 

And what was the reply of other pesticide manufacturers 
to Mr. Thompson’s commendable action? A promised 284 
per cent increase in pesticide sales by 1975—a bold an¬ 
nouncement that the American diet will become progres¬ 
sively more toxic. 

No one can say with certainty what the ultimate outcome 
of this progressive poisonous onslaught will be on human 
beings. A frightening possibility is suggested by an inci¬ 
dent recalled by Dr. Mobbs. An eighteen-year-old North 
Carolina boy who worked in a pesticide-manufacturing 
plant was, in the course of his job, accidentally doused 
with toxaphene, one of DDT’s kin. 

Dr. Mobbs said: “He had won an award three weeks 
before as the outstanding athlete in the local high school. 
This boy developed virus-like symptoms, then anemia, hy¬ 
pertension, paralysis; and eight months following his orig¬ 
inal illness he died. ... I think his case could be a pre¬ 
view of what could happen to some of the rest of us as we 
eat food that is contaminated by insecticides and gradu¬ 
ally store it in our tissues.” 

And welded to that ominous forecast is this somber 
warning from Dr. Biskind: “Unfortunately, our culture is 
dominated by a simple-minded test-tube approach to biol¬ 
ogy. The laws of biology are intricate. All living beings 
on this earth exist in a system governed by an incredibly 
sensitive complex of checks and balances. We can learn 
the laws of nature and adapt them to our needs, or we can 
defy them and perish.” 



5 

Cancer 
and Human 
Guinea Pigs 


Even more sinister than the common insecticide poi¬ 
sons are a number of other compounds that force the 
American public to assume the role of guinea pig in a life- 
and-death experiment. 

These are the carcinogens—cancer-causing substances 
that appear regularly in the nation’s diet. 

Almost a score of these chemicals are now in use, and 
several others have been eliminated after having been used 
for many years; a third group narrowly missed getting into 
foods only because, accidentally, their cancer-causing prop¬ 
erties were discovered. 

Because the law does not require testing food chemicals 
for carcinogenicity, it is unknown how many chemicals 
now appearing in foods may be capable of inducing cancer. 
Based on the statistical results of previous tests, scientists 
estimate that up to 25 per cent may be found to have this 
power. 

An excellent illustration of the risk the public has been 
subjected to is the story of Aramite. Aramite is an ac¬ 
knowledged carcinogen that was permitted in the nation’s 
food until it was recently banned by the Food and Drug 
Administration. Previously, the FDA had permitted its use 
even knowing that when rats ate the substance they de¬ 
veloped cancers. 

The fact that Aramite no longer can remain on food 
crops in interstate commerce —at least not legally— can be 
little comfort to people who have consumed it for several 


81 


82 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


years. Because of the insidious nature of carcinogens, their 
effects may not be felt for twenty or thirty years—long 
after person who were once exposed to them have forgot¬ 
ten that they were formerly part of their diet. 

The permitted use of Aramite dramatizes the approach 
many scientists, food technicians and government officials 
have toward the powerful chemicals employed in foods 
today, and the direction in which their sense of responsi¬ 
bility lies. 

Aramite is a pesticide that bears the awesome chemi¬ 
cal name beta-chloroethylbeta-(para-tertiary-butyl-phen- 
oxy)-alpha-ethyl-methyl-sulfite. Specifically, it is a miti- 
cide, designed to kill mites. Aramite is under jurisdiction 
of the Miller Pesticide Act, which makes no provision for 
barring carcinogens from foods. 

The Aramite story began in 1951 when the substance 
was developed by Naugatuck Chemical Division, United 
States Rubber Company, after a five-year developmental 
program that cost the company about $500,000. 

There was a ready market for the product. Mites had 
become a serious problem for farmers. DDT and its fellow 
chemicals had killed off insects and birds that normally 
kept mites under control by eating them. The United States 
Department of Agriculture referred to the problem in its 
1952 Yearbook of Agriculture, stating: “Never before 
have so many pests with such a wide range of habits and 
characteristics increased to injurious levels following ap¬ 
plication of any one material as has occurred following 
the use of DDT in apple spray programs.” 

Aramite was introduced on a limited test sales basis in 
1951 and licensed for sale by the USDA in 1953. The 
following year, 1954, the Miller Act was passed by Con¬ 
gress, requiring the FDA to set a tolerance for each pesti¬ 
cide chemical used on raw agricultural crops. 

In 1955, Naugatuck Chemical Company petitioned the 
FDA for a tolerance of 2 ppm residue of Aramite in or on 
certain fruits and vegetables, and a tolerance of 5 ppm on 
certain other raw agricultural commodities. The FDA does 
not safety-test every chemical used on food. To do so 
would require an army of scientists. The FDA’s scientists 
did, however, test Aramite. They showed that rats fed the 
substance developed liver tumors. The FDA ruled that 
because of Aramite’s carcinogenic nature it would grant a 



CANCER AND HUMAN GUINEA PIGS 83 

zero tolerance. This meant that no Aramite could remain 
on crops when they went to market. 

The company withdrew its original application and sub¬ 
mitted a new petition requesting a tolerance of 1 ppm; it 
also requested that the new petition be referred to an ad¬ 
visory committee of experts for study and recommenda¬ 
tions—a procedure guaranteed by law. 

A five-man committee of scientists, with one member ab¬ 
sent who expressed his views by telephone, met in Wash¬ 
ington on July 25, 1955, and after a morning and afternoon 
session issued three recommendations: 

1. That a residue tolerance of 1 ppm be established for 
Aramite. 

2. That the petitioner be advised to secure acceptable 
data on the chronic toxicity and carcinogenicity of Aramite 
at feeding levels between zero and 500 ppm in the mouse, 
rat and dog. 

3. That the entire problem be reviewed by this or an¬ 
other committee in 1957, when further laboratory and 
other data would be available. 

The committee recommended tests at zero to 500 ppm to 
find out if tumors would be produced at those levels, 
which were lower than those previously studied. 

Congressman James J. Delaney later pointed out that 
“these surely were strange recommendations for scientists 
to make. They admitted that they felt that the data which 
they reviewed were insufficient and incomplete, and, in 
particular, suggested that more information be secured re¬ 
garding the cancer-inducing propensities of Aramite. Yet, 
at the same time, they were perfectly willing that the pub¬ 
lic be exposed to a certain amount of it. 

“It is all the more strange when we consider that the 
committee had before it reports of tests which showed that 
Aramite, when fed in certain concentrations, produced 
liver injury and malignant tumors in test animals.” Once 
again, as so often in the past, the public became a guinea 
Pig- 

After its one-day session in which it recommended in¬ 
troducing a known carcinogen into the lives of 175,000,000 
Americans, the committee dissolved, responsible to no one. 

The FDA accepted the recommendations of the advisory 
committee, withdrew its previous ruling, and published a 
tolerance of 1 ppm for Aramite. 

The publication made no mention of the cancer hazard. 


84 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


A casual reader could only have learned that a tolerance 
had been set to permit sale of food containing what was 
just one more new chemical. Americans went on eating 
without realizing that someone in Washington had made a 
decision that could affect their lives and the lives of their 
children. 

The significance of the Aramite decision was not lost 
upon cancer-researcher Dr. William E. Smith, now director 
of the Nutrition Research Laboratory at Fairleigh Dickin¬ 
son University in Madison, New Jersey. In 1954, Dr. Smith 
served as chairman of the Symposium on Cancer Preven¬ 
tion at the Sixth International Cancer Congress in Sao 
Paulo. There, cancer experts from all over the world 
united to caution against use of carcinogenic chemicals in 
food, and their resolutions were forwarded to the FDA. 

Dr. Smith called Congressman Delaney’s attention to the 
fact that the Aramite decision established a precedent for 
granting “tolerances” to chemicals found to induce cancer. 
Dr. Smith pointed out that this precedent accommodated 
chemical manufacturers, but consumers were left to the 
mercy of somebody’s guess that human beings might be 
less sensitive than test rats or mice. He suggested that our 
food law should expressly ban chemicals found to induce 
cancer. 

Mr. Delaney paid tribute to Dr. Smith, reading into the 
Congressional Record that he “has had a brilliant research 
career and at various times has been on the staffs of the 
Harvard Medical School, the Rockefeller Institute for 
Medical Research, the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer 
Research. . . . Dr. Smith is a dedicated scientist and a 
courageous man who has not hesitated to tangle with the 
industries in attacking practices which he has felt might 
endanger the public health.” 

Dr. Smith noted that the FDA’s advisory committee’s 
report showed that the committee had before it the follow¬ 
ing FDA interoffice memorandum: 

“An experiment with any lower dosage level will not 
remove the onus that Aramite is a known carcinogen. The 
Division of Pharmacology cannot recommend that such a 
substance be used on human food.” 

Mr. Delaney, pointing to this communique, said that “at 
the time of its original ruling, the Food and Drug Admin¬ 
istration had on hand evidence to show that Aramite, so 
far as the public health was concerned, was at least a sus- 



CANCER AND HUMAN GUINEA PIGS 


85 


picious product. Under the law, FDA was not required to 
accept the recommendations of the advisory committee 
and grant any tolerance to the chemical.” Why, then, did 
the FDA’s Commissioner ignore the advice of his division 
of pharmacology? 

The FDA order permitted residue of Aramite on apples, 
blueberries, cantaloupes, celery, cucumbers, grapefruit, 
grapes, green beans, lemons, muskmelons, oranges, peach¬ 
es, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, water¬ 
melons and sweet corn, but not forage thereof. Dr. Smith 
noted that “the last phrase indicates that members of Con¬ 
gress and their constituents can be obliged to eat this sub¬ 
stance, but a cow cannot.” 

The decision to permit use of carcinogens in foods was 
at complete variance with a recommendation of outstand¬ 
ing cancer experts throughout the world. The Interna¬ 
tional Union Against Cancer, made up of cancer specialists 
from fifty nations, has twice passed a resolution against 
the concept of establishing “tolerance” doses for carcino¬ 
gens. 

The IUAC has held that any substance found to induce 
cancer in any species of animal in any dose by any route 
of administration should not be approved for use in food. 

Cancer experts explain that ordinary poisons are differ¬ 
ent from carcinogens. The latter produce changes in cells 
that are irreversible, and they have a cumulative effect that 
may result in cancer, sometimes in only a few months, 
sometimes in three or four decades. 

Dr. Smith noted that single, small doses of carcinogens 
eaten by young individuals may have no immediate effect 
but could result in cancer much later in life. For this rea¬ 
son, he said, a carcinogen introduced into the nation’s food 
supply tomorrow could, even though subsequently recon¬ 
sidered and withdrawn, induce cancer many years later in 
individuals who consumed it. 

As a rough example, it has been asserted that a man of 
fifty exposed to certain cancer-inducing substances would 
not normally live long enough to develop cancer. But a 
youth of eighteen, if exposed to the same influences, would 
probably die of cancer before he reached the age of filty. 
And a child exposed to carcinogens from the day of birth 
might die of cancer before he even reached thirty. 

Dr. Smith observed that “many scientists have induced 
cancer late in the life of animals by giving them when 


86 THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 

young a single dose that could be put on the head of 
a pin.” 

Dr. Francis E. Ray, head of the Cancer Research Labo¬ 
ratory, University of Florida, emphasized the danger to 
children by pointing out to a Congressional committee that 
“our experiments show that the younger the animal is 
when he is treated with a carcinogen, the more certain is 
the production of cancer. And so, we may be initiating 
cancer in the children of today by the addition of chem¬ 
icals, and they are very susceptible to that. We will not 
know, perhaps for a generation or two, what the effects 
will be.” 

Repeated warnings have been given by cancer experts 
about the irreversible, cumulative effects of carcinogens. 
Dr. Ray explained that very small doses produce in the 
cell an irreversible change, and other small doses push that 
change along into active cancer. “The production of can¬ 
cer by chemicals is considered to be divided into two 
stages—initiation and promotion.” He said certain chemi¬ 
cals initiate changes in cells that will lie dormant for years, 
waiting for some promoting factor to push the dormant 
cancer cells into active cancer production. 

Another warning about the danger of small amounts of 
cancer-causing properties comes from Professor Hermann 
Druckrey, chairman of the Food and Dye Commission of 
the German Research Council, and a member of the Inter¬ 
national Union Against Cancer. He pointed out that “we 
now know that cancer can be caused by chemical sub¬ 
stances and is therefore clearly a toxicological problem.” 

When the dose of a carcinogen is reduced, he added, 
cancer develops more slowly, but if the dose is given early 
in life and the animal lives long enough, cancer eventually 
develops. Professor Druckrey said the carcinogenic action 
depends on the sum of all single doses, independent of the 
time over which they are distributed. A recovery factor 
does not operate, he emphasized, but the effects of small 
doses remain irreversible throughout life. 

It has been shown that cancer can be induced by chem¬ 
icals, physical injury and viruses. Dr. Smith explained that 
cancer cannot be thought of as a disease with one specific 
cause, but, rather, must be considered a type of cell or 
body reaction that is in the same category as an inflamma¬ 
tion. “Everyone accepts the fact that a few bacteria can 
enter the body, multiply, and cause disease,” he said. “We 




CANCER AND HUMAN GUINEA PIGS 


87 


are concerned now with the fact that a few chemical 
molecules can enter the body, stimulate a body cell to mul¬ 
tiply, and as that cell and its descendants go on multiplying 
we eventually get a mass of cells that we call cancer.” 

Despite repeated protests from Mr. Delaney and the 
warnings of Dr. Smith and other cancer experts, Aramite 
remained in the nation’s diet for thirty months with the 
expressed approval of the FDA. It was not withdrawn 
until the spring of 1958, after the feeding tests recom¬ 
mended by the original advisory committee were conclud¬ 
ed. The tests showed that Aramite would not only incite 
tumors in the livers of rats at lower dosages than origi¬ 
nally studied but would also produce liver damage and 
malignant tumors in the liver and bile ducts of dogs. 

FDA then ordered a zero tolerance for Aramite, and the 
U. S. Rubber Company promptly announced it would ap¬ 
peal the decision. 

Mr. Delaney said FDA wa3 to be commended on “ad¬ 
mitting its mistake” and publishing the revised tolerance. 
“However,” he added, “that does not remove the possible 
effect that Aramite may have had on the public during the 
period in which its residues have been permitted.” 

It is important to note that in lowering the tolerance of 
Aramite, the FDA indicated concern only over the chem¬ 
ical’s potency and in no way revoked the principle it had 
supported in permitting people to eat cancer-causing chem¬ 
icals in “safe doses.” 

Although the 1958 amendment to the pure food law 
bans carcinogens as chemical additives in interstate com¬ 
merce, this proviso applies only to additives —not to pesti¬ 
cides and certain substances covered by the meat laws. 
The wording of the clause leaves loopholes big enough to 
drive a hearse through, as shall subsequently be brought 
out. 

While residues of Aramite are not supposed to remain on 
foods that cross state lines, other carcinogens remain in the 
nation’s food supply, at least for the moment, with the 
blessings of the FDA. All the objections that apply to 
Aramite also apply to them; Aramite merely received more 
publicity because it established the precedent of “safe 
doses” for carcinogens. 

The concept of safe doses has been attacked by cancer 
experts on many fronts. Dr. Hueper, formerly of the Na¬ 
tional Cancer Institute, which, like the FDA, is part of the 


88 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


Department of Health, Education and Welfare, has warned 
that in addition to the cumulative and irreversible nature 
of carcinogens, the differences between a nim als and people 
are so great that it is extremely hazardous to fix “safe 
doses” for humans on the basis of laboratory experiments; 
he also pointed out the vast differences among people in 
their response to carcinogens. No one can know exactly 
what his individual limit is, short of the actual appearance 
of a cancer. 

Moreover, said Dr. Hueper, the general population is 
composed not only of normal individuals but also of a 
considerable proportion of metabolically defective and sick 
individuals who possess varying susceptibilities to carcino¬ 
gens. 

He also noted that present experimental methods of de¬ 
termining the relative carcinogenic potency of chemicals do 
not permit an adequate determination of factors necessary 
to establish an allegedly “safe dose” of a carcinogen. 

Further, he continued, “the claim of an allegedly ‘safe 
dose’ of a dietary carcinogen disregards completely the 
important fact that the entire population becomes exposed 
during its lifetime to an appreciable number of known and 
unknown carcinogenic influences which are in part identi¬ 
cal with those carcinogens recommended for inclusion in 
the general food supply, and which doubtlessly may ac¬ 
centuate the action of dietary carcinogens. . . . The inclu¬ 
sion of nonessential carcinogenic agents in any amounts in 
the daily diet would violate a fundamental principle of 
cancer control.” 

Finally, he said, “consideration should be given to the 
fact that the inclusion of carcinogenic additives in food¬ 
stuffs even in allegedly safe doses necessitates the institu¬ 
tion of complicated and expensive control measures which 
would be paid for by the general taxpayer. Since the use 
of such carcinogenic chemical additives is not in the in¬ 
terest of the taxpayer, he should not be forced to provide 
funds for his own protection against hazardous and non- 
essential chemicals added to foods for the financial bene¬ 
fits of the manufacturer of the chemicals and the producers 
and processors of the foodstuffs. 

Frequently the Government and apologists for industry 
excuse the use of carcinogens in foods by asserting that 
they have only a “weak” cancer-causing action. The ad¬ 
visory committee that recommended the use of Aramite in 




CANCER AND HUMAN GUINEA PIGS 


89 


food noted the presence of two so-called weak carcinogens 
now in use as part of their justification for recommending 
a 1 ppm tolerance for Aramite. They referred to the pesti¬ 
cides DDT and methoxychlor. 

Their report stated: . . concentrations of DDT at 200 
ppm produce hepatic hypertrophy (excessive development 
of the liver from overuse) and have a ‘minimal carcino¬ 
genic tendency’; a tolerance of 7 ppm of DDT is permitted 
on raw agricultural products designed for human con¬ 
sumption. Methoxychlor also produces similar effects and 
is permitted a tolerance above zero.” 

The hazard of “weak” carcinogens for cancer-susceptible 
people was spelled out by Dr. Smith. As an example, he 
said, take a chemical that induces cancer in, say, only 
1 per cent of the exposed individuals. Such a compound 
would have nine chances out of ten for receiving a certifi¬ 
cate of harmlessness when tested on a group of ten ani¬ 
mals. If fifty animals were used, the odds would be even 
that its hazard would go undiscovered. Yet, if such a 
chemical were put into the general food supply of the na¬ 
tion, and human beings were one hundred times less sensi¬ 
tive to it than any animal, a one per cent toll could mean 
15,000 cases of cancer. 

Again, said Dr. Smith, consider the possibility that a 
dose is found that fails to induce cancer in one hundred 
animals of each of several species tested. What does this 
mean in groups too large for laboratory study? A single 
such substance in a dose eliciting only one cancer per 
100,000 individuals can mean 1,500 unnecessary deaths in 
the population of the country. 

Another warning about the risk of depending on animal 
tests to detect carcinogens was sounded recently by Dr. 
David D. Rutstein, head of the Department of Preventive 
Medicine at Harvard University. Taking to task persons 
who made light of the threat to health from the contami¬ 
nated cranberries mentioned earlier here, and supporting 
the forthright stand taken by Arthur S. Flemming, Secre¬ 
tary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, 
in banning the tainted berries despite tremendous industry 
pressure, Dr. Rutstein stated: 

“Animal testing is difficult to do because a substance 
may cause cancer in one species and be harmless to an¬ 
other. But one fact is clear: a substance is more likely to 


90 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


produce cancer in man if in any dosage it produces cancer 
in test animals. 

“A further difficulty is introduced by the fact that large 
amounts of the cancer-producing substance, the carcino¬ 
gen, may be needed to produce its evil in one animal and 
yet smaller amounts may produce the safe effect in an¬ 
other species.” Dr. Rutstein added that consideration also 
should be given to the fact that a carcinogen also may be 
more harmful to humans than the animals on which it was 
tested. 

There are many other risks involved in the “safe dose” 
concept because of the enormous number of variables that 
influence human biology. This factor is so complex that a 
substance may even be harmful to a person at one time in 
his life and harmless at another. 

The problem is further complicated, Dr. Hueper has 
explained, because of the possibility that carcinogenic 
chemicals may be formed from noncarcinogenic ones under 
the influence of heat, and additives and contaminants 
which were originally noncarcinogenic may interact with 
each other or with food constituents and form, in the food¬ 
stuffs, new compounds possessing carcinogenic properties. 
He said they may be produced under the influence of pro¬ 
cessing procedures or during the preparation of food in 
the kitchen. “Plastics used as wrapping material, sausage 
skins and coating material of fruits, cheese, meat, butter, 
and can linings may carry a similar hazard,” he said. 

The eminent Government cancer researcher also warned 
that merely because chemicals have been used for many 
years without becoming suspect as carcinogens, this is no 
guarantee that they are innocent. Butter Yellow, a dye 
(never widely used in butter), was used in other foods 
before it was found to be carcinogenic; Dulcin, a synthetic 
sweetening agent, was in use more than fifty years before 
it was found to be a carcinogen; the FDA report stated that 
when the substance was fed to rats in amounts comparable 
to those used in foods, it inhibited growth, adversely af¬ 
fected the blood and produced liver tumors. Other sub¬ 
stances also have been found capable of causing cancer 
after having been widely used in foods for many years. 

Dr. Hueper said present investigative methods make it 
difficult if not impossible to prove that cancerous effect in 
members of the general population are due to any particu- 



CANCER AND HUMAN GUINEA PIGS 


91 


lar chemical additive “once this substance has been put to 
general use.” 

Appearing in foods at the present time, according to Dr. 
Hueper, there are more than a dozen categories of chem¬ 
icals which he classifies as carcinogens “according to the 
widely accepted definition that carcinogens are agents 
which when applied under certain conditions to man or 
animals elicit the subsequent development of cancers which 
would not have appeared otherwise.” 

Among the chemicals which Dr. Hueper has named as 
carcinogens are: 

• Certain food dyes—he lists the triphenylmethane dyes, 
Green No. 2, Blue No. 1 and Green No. 3; also the beta- 
naphthylamine azo benzol dyes, Yellow AB and Yellow 
OB, used to color butter, margarine and baked goods. 
These will be discussed in Chapter 6. 

• The preservative 8-hydroxyquinoline, used in cottage 
cheese as a coagulator; also present in contraceptives and 
rectal suppositories. (Recently eliminated.) 

• The synthetic mucilage carboxymethyl cellulose. The 
Food Protection Committee of the Food and Nutrition 
Board, National Academy of Sciences—National Research 
Council lists this compound as a stabilizer in processed 
cheese, French dressing, salad dressing, ice cream, sher¬ 
bets, ices, ice milk, chocolate milk and chocolate-flavored 
beverages, pressure-dispensed whipped cream, sirups for 
frozen products and various frozen mixtures; also as a 
bodying agent in beverages and canned fruits sweetened 
with nonnutritive sweeteners. 

• Arsenicals found in foodstuffs as pesticide residue and 
as an additive of animal feeds of poultry and livestock. 

• Estrogenic chemicals used for promoting fattening of 
poultry and livestock. 

• Chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides, “especially Ara- 
mite” (since eliminated) and DDT present as residues in 
foodstuffs. 

• Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons with carcinogenic 
properties contained in soot adherent to smoked goods or 
generated on foodstuffs by the application of excessive heat 
during roasting and grilling procedures. 

• Wrapping and coating materials composed of polym¬ 
erized carbon and silicon compounds. 

• Paraffins and mineral oils if insufficiently refined and 


92 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


employed for the coating of foodstuffs such as cheeses and 
fruits and for the impregnation of food containers. 

• Radioactive substances either attached to the surface of 
foodstuffs from radioactive fallouts or entering plants and 
animals through absorption from contaminated water and 
soil. 

• Potential carcinogenic contaminants: these may be in¬ 
troduced into foodstuffs if vegetables, fruits, fish, oysters 
and livestock are grown on soil or in water polluted with 
known carcinogens, such as arsenicals, selenium and poly¬ 
cyclic hydrocarbons contained in ship fuel oils, since these 
chemicals may be taken up and stored by the vegetable 
and animal matter growing in such contaminated media. 

Selenium also has been used as a pesticide. Like Ara- 
mite, it was a miticide, and w 7 as used on citrus fruits, apples 
and grapes from about 1933 until the early 1950s. Dr. 
Lehman of the FDA testified before the Delaney Commit¬ 
tee that ‘‘using very small amounts in the diet [of ani¬ 
mals], we find about three parts per million will produce a 
liver disease known as cirrhosis of the liver . . . The ani¬ 
mals eventually developed cancer of the liver and the 
amounts necessary are very small, down to three or four 
parts per million.” 

He noted that selenium built up in the soil and could 
migrate into the growing plant and eventually appear in 
the fruit. Residues were rather high, he said, approaching 
1 ppm on an unwashed apple. 

“Selenium will penetrate the skin of an apple and ap¬ 
pear in the pulp . . . Minute amounts of it (at least in ani¬ 
mals) can initiate a sequence of pathologic changes, the 
earliest of which are symptomless and pass unnoticed while 
the later stages are irreparable and ultimately fatal. . . 

What did the FDA do about this? Dr. Lehman said, 
“We called this to the attention of the manufacturers of 
Selocide and through a number of years we have had cor¬ 
respondence with them advising them against the use of 
the product.” 

Despite this action, he said the product had continued 
to be manufactured and used, and it was still being used 
when he testified in 1950. 

An FDA report stated that residues also appeared on the 
skins of oranges sprayed with the substance and “washing 
as ordinarily practiced removed little or none of the selen¬ 
ium. ... It would probably have been impossible to estab- 





CANCER AND HUMAN GUINEA PIGS 


93 


lish that the quantities of selenium in or on these oranges 
was dangerous to health. It is also far from certain that 
the selenium absorbed by the tree from the contaminated 
soil and transported to oranges is ‘added’ within the mean¬ 
ing of section 402 (a) (2) of the Federal Food, Drug, and 
Cosmetic Act. Far greater levels of selenium are, of course, 
found in various crops grown on naturally seleniferous 
soils... .” 

There is no indication that the Government ever tried to 
force the issue by banning the pesticide and makes the 
manufacturer fight to get it back. So the substance re¬ 
mained in use a dozen years, until given a zero tolerance 
under the Miller Act. 

One of the biggest problems with carcinogens is that, 
unlike ordinary toxic chemicals, they usually do not pro¬ 
duce warning symptoms of poisoning; yet subtle changes 
occur in the exposed cells, and cancer eventually develops. 
Dr. Hueper has cautioned that there is no relationship 
between the toxicity of a substance and its ability to pro¬ 
duce cancer. In fact, he said, “only occasionally have 
chronic toxicity tests revealed in the screening of chem¬ 
icals for toxic qualities their carcinogenic character. As a 
rule, the minimal carcinogenic dose is distinctly lower than 
the minimal chronic toxic dose.” 

This has an ominous meaning for man because the can¬ 
cer-causing properties of a chemical can easily be missed 
in ordinary toxicity-screening tests. The ease with which a 
carcinogen might get on the market was illustrated by Dr. 
Hueper when questioned by Vincent A. Kleinfeld, chief 
counsel to the Delaney Committee: 

Q. Was the discovery that acetylaminofluorene [a pro¬ 
posed pesticide] produced cancer an incidental or acci¬ 
dental one, or was an attempt being made to determine the 
fact? 

A. The authors made it quite clear in their communica¬ 
tion that it was accidental. 

Q. In what part of the organs of the body did it produce 
cancer? 

A. It would produce cancer of the liver, the stomach, 
the breast, the thyroid, the pelvis, the kidney, the bladder, 
the female genital tract, the external auditory canal and 
occasionally the brain. 

Q. After the discovery that this proposed insecticide did 
produce cancer it was discarded for that use, was it not? 


94 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


A. That is right. It was never used for that purpose. 

Q. If the fact that it did produce cancer had not been 
ascertained in the accidental fashion which you mentioned, 
it might now be used as an insecticide; is that correct? 

A. Doubtlessly it would have been. 

Q. After the discovery was made with respect to acetyl- 
aminofluorene, did you know whether a general program 
was started by anyone to test other insecticides then in use 
for their possible tumor-producing or cancer-producing 
properties? 

A. Not that I am aware of. 

Despite the obvious disadvantages the guinea-pig ap¬ 
proach holds for the public, it has been stoutly defended 
by some scientists. An insight into their thinking is af¬ 
forded by the testimony of W. M. Hoskins, professor of 
entomology at the University of California Agricultural 
Experiment Station. He said he probably made the first 
DDT produced in California and “it was unbelievably toxic 
to flies, ants, and other common insects . . . and the per¬ 
sistent effects were beyond our previous experience.” 

He pointed out that long-term tests for chronic effects of 
chemicals often are more important than short-term tests 
for acute toxicity. Since man is the species whose well¬ 
being is of most concern in this matter, he said, only by 
long continued and extensive tests on humans can really 
unchallengeable data on toxicity be obtained. 

“How can this be done?” he said. “It is already being 
done in an unplanned way with every new agricultural 
chemical.” 

Under questioning by the startled Delaney Committee, 
he was asked if that couldn’t be “fairly called the human 
guinea pig approach.” 

A. I presume so. 

Q. How do you think these human guinea pigs feel 
about it? 

A. Why, I believe they would object. ... No drug is 
ever given a clean bill of healthonthebasis of animal 
testing. It is taken from animal quotas into the clinic and 
tried on humans. Many don’t know they are being used as 
guinea pigs. 

Q. I imagine these humans are asked whether or not it 
should be used. 

A. They don’t know whether they are in the control or 
test group. 



DYES—THE 'INNOCENT" CARCINOGENS 


95 


Q. Do they not consent to the experiment? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Do you not think that is important? 

A. Not especially. 

It must be presumed that Mr. Hoskins speaks for himself 
as an individual, and his views can be binding on no other 
person or institution. The FDA has insisted that its posi¬ 
tion is that no person is expendable under the food laws. 
This is a noble creed, but one that seems to ring somewhat 
hollow when it is realized that the public’s margin of safety 
in the matter of chemical carcinogens in foods is an as¬ 
surance based on the tenuous thread of the definition of 
what constitutes a carcinogen. 


6 

Dyes— 

the “Innocent” 


Carcinogens 


(i) 


W hen is a carcinogen not a carcinogen? 

The Food and Drug Administration repeatedly 
has asserted there are no cancer-causing chemicals in the 
nation’s food supply. 

In a speech before Housewives United, November 30, 
1956, Wallace F. Janssen, then assistant to the FDA com¬ 
missioner, stated: . it is . . . a fact that wc do not 

know of evidence that there is any chemical or food color 
in use in this country today that is carcinogenic, and . . . 
if we had any such evidence we could, of course, take ap¬ 
propriate action under the Federal Food, Drug, and 
Cosmetic Act.” 

On August 7, 1957, Dr. Huepcr told the House Sub¬ 
committee on Health and Science: ‘‘It is ... a well estab¬ 
lished fact that an appreciable and growing number of 


96 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


chemicals, of which a few are known to enter the human 
food supply, are capable of causing and do cause cancers 
in man under proper conditions of exposure.” 

Who is telling the truth? 

The answer is tricky, and a bit complex, but it illustrates 
the chemical “brinksmanship” the American people are 
being subjected to in the matter of chemical additives. The 
problem is best illustrated by the way dyes are used in the 
nation’s diet 

These compounds are unique among additives because 
not even their strongest supporters can claim they are use¬ 
ful to anyone—except to their manufacturers and to food 
processors. Against this questionable advantage, the dyes 
make it possible for the public to be deceived and cheated 
by masking inferior products and creating nutritional illu¬ 
sions, and they are among the most poisonous chemicals 
that go into foods. 

A majority of the synthetic dyes approved for use in 
foods have been shown to cause cancer in animals; among 
them are chemical cousins to highly potent cancer-causing 
substances that actually have caused cancer in man. Some 
dyes, though not carcinogenic, are harmful to animals, even 
in tiny doses; on different occasions large numbers of 
children have been made violently sick from eating arti¬ 
ficially colored foods. 

America leads the world in using synthetic dyes to color 
food. From 1955 to 1965 the use of these dyes in the 
United States shot up from 1.69 million pounds to 2.6 mil¬ 
lion pounds. 

A synthetic dye is one which is put together by man. It 
is mixed in a test tube out of artificial compounds. The 
synthetic dyes certified for use by the FDA are coal-tar 
products. 

Dyes appear in everything from sweet potatoes to frank¬ 
furters They are used in some processed breakfast cereals 
and in flavored straws designed to beguile children into 
drinking their milk. In recent years dyes have even been 
used as coloring matter in many household detergents; 
these dyes come from a chemical family that has produced 
cancers in rats. 

The use of dyes has shot up in recent years with the 
greater consumption of ready-prepared, canned, bottled 
and packaged foodstuffs, which are shipped great distances 
and stored and stocked for months. 




DYES—THE "INNOCENT* CARCINOGENS 


97 


Most products must state on their labels if dyes are pres¬ 
ent, but ice cream—in which dyes are almost universally 
used—was granted an exemption under the 1938 Pure 
Food Law. 

The dyes themselves have an interesting history. For 
many years there were vast numbers in extensive use with¬ 
out having been tested. Then it was decided to limit the 
number, test the selected ones carefully and use in foods 
only those found to be harmless. 

Under the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, nine¬ 
teen dyes were certified. Since then eight have been de¬ 
certified, leaving eleven approved for use in foods. 

When a dye is certified, it means that it is “pure.” Mr. 
Janssen has pointed out that “under the law, the colors are 
supposed to be certified as completely safe—so that no 
matter how much color is used it would not be harmful. 
No legal action is possible against anyone for using an 
excessive amount of a certified color.” 

Despite this legal assurance, Dr. Arthur A. Nelson of 
the FDA reported in 1957 that ten out of thirteen certified 
dyes tested—all in wide use—had produced cancers in 
rats when injected under the skin. 

Dr. Nelson would not estimate how much color the 
average person gets in his daily food, but science writer 
Earl Ubell said that from Dr. Nelson’s figures “it was esti¬ 
mated that some must get twice as much by mouth as some 
of the rats got under the skin. . . 

The oil-soluble colors reportedly were “in general so 
poisonous when injected under the skin that the mice died 
before the scientists had a chance to see if cancer de¬ 
veloped in many cases. Only reduced doses brought out 
the cancer-producing proclivities of two of the colors.” 

The International Union Against Cancer said that not 
one dye had been proved safe for use in food. The cancer 
experts listed twenty-nine food dyes as “unsuitable or po¬ 
tentially dangerous, which should not be added to food or 
drink for man or animals.” The list included nine dyes that 
were commonly used in foods in the United States. Despite 
the warning, only two of the colors subsequently have been 
taken off the government’s “approved” list. 

The nine U. S. certified dyes listed and the foods they 
appear in are: 

ORANGE No. 1—Fish pastes, carbonated beverages, 
jellies, confectionery, custards, blanc-mangc powder, bis- 



98 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


cuits, cakes, ice cream, cordials, cordial extracts and crys¬ 
tals, ice cream toppings, milk bar sirups, sausage casings, 
puddings, frozen desserts, solutions for home use, soft 
drinks. (Now decertified) 

ORANGE No. 2—Cheese, margarine, candies, edible 
fats, external coloring of oranges. (Now decertified) 

YELLOW No. 1—Confectionery, macaroni, spaghetti, 
other pastas, baked goods, beverages, 

YELLOW No. 3 (Yellow AB)—Edible fats, margarine, 
butter, cakes, biscuits, candy. 

YELLOW No. 4 (Yellow OB)—Same as Yellow No. 3. 

GREEN No. 1—Cordials, jellies, soft drinks, candy, 
bakery goods, frozen desserts. 

GREEN No. 2—Candies, essences, cordials, biscuits, 
cake, jellies, maraschino cherries, frozen desserts. 

GREEN No. 3—Candies, jellies, desserts, bakery prod¬ 
ucts. 

BLUE No. 1—Icings, cordials, cordial extracts and crys¬ 
tals, jellies, ice cream, ice-cream toppings, milk bar sirups, 
candies, cake decorations, frozen desserts, soft drinks, pud¬ 
dings, bakery goods, solutions for home use. 

Subsequently the government withdrew approval of sev¬ 
eral of these dyes—Orange No. 1, Orange No. 2, Yellow 
No. 1, Yellow No. 3, Yellow No. 4 and Green No. 1. 
But because of the nature of carcinogens, no one can give 
assurance that many years from now, long after it has 
been forgotten that they ever appeared in foods, they won’t 
cause cancer in someone who ate them. 

Two of the dyes whose cancer hazard has been repeat¬ 
edly emphasized are Yellow AB and Yellow OB, widely 
used to color butter and margarine. They are made from 
a potent chemical called beta-naphthylamine. In explain¬ 
ing the treachery of carcinogens, as compared with ordi¬ 
nary poisons, Dr. Hueper said that beta-naphthylamine pos¬ 
sesses a “remarkably low toxicity while being one of the 
most carcinogenic substances known.” 

In fact, he said, beta-naphthylamine had such a high 
cancer hazard that most of the large chemical manufactur¬ 
ers stopped its production because it had caused bladder 
cancer in from 50 to 100 per cent of the exposed workers. 

It long has been feared that when dyes containing beta- 
naphthylamine are ingested and broken down in the body, 
the carcinogenic capacity is restored to the chemical. Dr. 


and Dr. Ray, cancer expert of the University of 




DYES—THE 'INNOCENT' CARCINOGENS 


99 


Florida, have expressed that belief, based on animal ex¬ 
periments. Dr. Hueper said that when Yellow AB and Yel¬ 
low OB were fed to rats at high levels, some of the animals 
developed liver cancer. 

In addition to this evidence, the FDA, in 1953, reported 
that Blue No. 1, Green No. 2 and Green No. 3 had caused 
cancers when repeatedly injected under the skins of 
animals. 

An advisory committee from the National Academy of 
Sciences said, in 1956, that with the FDA’s present facili¬ 
ties and personnel it didn’t see how the work necessary to 
obtain adequate toxicity data on all the dyes could be 
completed by the FDA within a twenty-five-year period. 

The committee observed that some dyes produced can¬ 
cer when painted on the skin of rats but had no apparent 
effect when taken internally, and some which produced 
cancer when swallowed appeared harmless when painted 
on the skin. 

It added: “Demonstration that a dye is harmless when 
administered by one route cannot be construed as indicat¬ 
ing that it is harmless when administered by any other 
route.” 

This is the key to understanding the conflict between Dr. 
Hueper and the FDA over whether there are carcinogens 
in the diet. It’s a question of definition. 

Dr. Hueper subscribes to the definition of the Interna¬ 
tional Union Against Cancer, which holds that a carcino¬ 
gen is a chemical that causes cancer in any living organism, 
regardless of how it is administered. 

The official IUAC definition states: “A carcinogen is a 
chemical, physical or animate agent which is capable of 
producing cancers in any organ or tissue of any species 
following exposure to it in any dose and physiochcmical 
state and when given by any route either once or 
repeatedly.” 

Dr. Lehman and Dr. Nelson of the FDA, however, at 
the Rome Cancer Conference, said they did not accept this 
definition of a carcinogen, although they admitted that if 
it were accepted it would apply to some chemicals pres¬ 
ently used in foods. They further hold that the mere fact 
that a chemical would cause cancer when injected under 
the skin should not rule out its use if the chemical was 
normally taken by mouth. 

The assumption that a chemical which apparently starts 



100 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


cancer only when injected under the skin is safe to eat is 
based on the observation that some dyes are not readily 
absorbed in the intestinal tract. 

Dr. Hueper has pointed out, however, that some dyes 
which ordinarily are not absorbed in the intestinal tract 
may be absorbed if taken along with detergents, which ap¬ 
pear in foods as additives and unintentional contaminants. 
If such dyes have started cancers when injected under the 
skin, he says, they also may start cancers when absorbed 
through the intestinal tract. In such cases detergents may 
act as co-carcinogens or cancer promoters, he explained. 

A co-carcinogen will not start a cancer by itself but en¬ 
hances the cancer-causing power of other chemicals. Co¬ 
carcinogens need not be administered at the same time as 
carcinogens but can be applied months later and still pro¬ 
duce cancers. Dr. Ray pointed out that some chemicals 
that cannot be shown to cause cancer may trigger the ail¬ 
ment in people who have an inherited or unsuspected ten¬ 
dency to develop cancers. 

Cancer researchers also have noted that carcinogens may 
start cancers even when not absorbed in the intestinal tract 
but merely by contact. The length of exposure to unab¬ 
sorbed carcinogens—such as some of the certified food 
dyes—may depend on a person’s state of health, diet, how 
long the food remains in the digestive tract and many other 
factors over which the average individual has little or no 
control. 

The cumulative, irreversible effects of carcinogens al¬ 
ways should be borne in mind; once they appear in foods, 
the damage cannot be undone by removing them. For 
example, said Dr. Smith, “O-tolylazo-2-naphthol (Orange 
No. 2), a dye long thought safe and used by the thousands 
of pounds annually in food in the United States, has been 
found in recent years (by British researchers) to induce 
intestinal polyps and cancer when fed to animals. . . . Last 
year’s [1956] discontinuation of the use of this dye offers 
no assurance that it will not cause cancer years later in 
children who have already eaten it. . . .” 

The threat to children is repeatedly stressed because of 
the number of years they have ahead of them after they 
get their dose. Dr. Hueper has warned that the tissues of 
the young are as susceptible to carcinogens “if not more 
so, than those of the old.” He said “it is likely” that at 
least some of the cancers observed at birth or in infants 




DYES—THE 'INNOCENT' CARCINOGENS 


101 


and children can be attributed to the mother’s exposure to 
carcinogens before or during pregnancy and while she is 
nursing. He said experiments have shown that carcinogens 
penetrate the placental barrier to the fetus, and other find¬ 
ings suggest that they can be excreted in the mother’s milk. 
Dr. Hueper also noted that when pregnant rats were in¬ 
jected with certain dyes their offspring were born with 
“congenital anomalies” such as clubfoot, heart and geni¬ 
tourinary ailments, no eyes, displaced hind limbs and other 
defects. 

The danger carcinogens in foods pose to children is 
dramatized by the increasing number of cancers observed 
in infants and children. A few decades ago they were a 
medical rarity; now they are commonplace. This cannot 
be explained away by the usual excuse of alleged better 
reporting, better diagnostic methods, etc.; it is a real in¬ 
crease. Only recently a special 280-bed hospital was dedi¬ 
cated in Boston for the treatment of cancer in children, 
and already it is overflowing with patients. Cancer takes a 
greater number of lives among children aged four to four¬ 
teen, in the United States, than any other disease (one out 
of every four deaths from disease in this age bracket). 
Among children, deaths caused by cancer are nearly 50 per 
cent greater than a decade ago; half of these deaths are due 
to leukemia. 

Sir MacFarlane Burnet, director of the Royal Mel¬ 
bourne Hospital in Australia, a Nobel Prize Winner in 
1960, pointed out that “in all countries the recorded deaths 
from leukemia at all ages are rising in approximately 
logarithmic fashion, the incidence doubling in fifteen to 
twenty-five years, or rising at a rate of 4 per cent or 5 
per cent per annum. 

“To a slight extent this may be due to improved diag¬ 
nosis and reporting of cases but the increase has been 
steady. . . . Some of it is undoubtedly due to the fact that 
the proportion of older people has been steadily increas¬ 
ing, but when this is allowed for, the increase is still strik¬ 
ing at all ages.” 

He said, “The findings in childhood arc of particular in¬ 
terest. In the United States, the United Kingdom, and 
Australia, the incidence curve has developed a peak in the 
three-four year age bracket. . . . No other disease shows 
this type of age incidence of death.” 

Another researcher sees the increasing incidence of leu- 


102 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


kemia as a warning that certain foreign agents may be 
causing irreparable genetic changes in people. Dr. M. Bur¬ 
net, writing in the South African Practitioner and quoted 
in the Journal of the American Medical Association (April 
11, 1959), issued this warning relative to the “production 
of chemical substances outside biologic experience.” 

It is disquieting, he stated, and “it raises the lurking fear 
that anything that is increasing the incidence of leukemia 
may also be breaking through the other barriers that in the 
past have protected the germ cells from mutagens. I think 
one would be wise to pay even more attention to leukemia 
than its intrinsic interest and lethality demand just because 
it is possibly the best indicator one can have of the last 
and greatest danger to civilization, active and avoidable 
genetic deterioration. . . . The exposure to physical and 
chemical mutagens should be reduced as much as possible 
.... On the chemical side a beginning has hardly been 
made.” 

The difficulty of trying to trace any specific cancer-caus¬ 
ing agent in the public at large has been pointed out by 
researchers because of the creeping treachery of these com¬ 
pounds. Dr. Ray noted that “very small amounts, not suffi¬ 
cient to affect the general health, are sufficient to initiate 
cancerous growth.” Dr. Smith observed that powerful car¬ 
cinogens could be distributed to the general population in 
large quantities for many years before their effects would 
take place. He added that detection of carcinogenic effects 
of any one of the many chemicals in use—including the 
dyes—would be extremely difficult to pinpoint, and could 
be recognized “only after multiple thousands of cases of 
cancer had occurred to provide statistical samples of the 
necessary size.” 

Even as the incidence of cancer continues to rise among 
the general population, these 1,500,000 pounds of dyes still 
continue to be produced and consumed annually on the 
biologically shaky premise that man is not a mouse and he 
eats his carcinogens instead of injecting them under his 
skin. Meanwhile, the tests go on. 

Dr. Smith said consumers have been required to wait 
several decades for decisions by juries of test rats and dogs 
as to the safety of dyes which these consumers have eaten 
in their food for some twenty years; during that time half 
a million pounds of two dyes were certified for use in food 
although they were primarily composed of beta-naphthyla- 





DYES—THE "INNOCENT' CARCINOGENS 


103 


mine, a molecular compound known to cause cancer of 
the bladder in factory workers who make it. 

In 1953, alone, he continued, “100,000 pounds of dye¬ 
stuffs known to cause cancer in animals were approved by 
the United States Food and Drug Administration for use 
in foodstuffs to be consumed by human beings.” This, he 
said, was “the same as dumping 50 tons of cancer-causing 
substances down the gullet of the American people.” 

( 2 ) 

Apart from the question of the cancer hazard from many 
food dyes is the problem of their toxicity. It is ironical to 
note that when the dyes were certified in 1938, the tests 
that demonstrated their “harmlessness in any amount used” 
obviously were then considered adequate to protect the 
safety of the American people. This proof of harmlessness 
turned out to be unwarranted optimism, as has happened 
so often in the history of food additives. 

In 1955, a few months after 200 children were made ill 
from eating dyed popcorn at a Christmas party, the FDA 
announced decertification of the three dyes involved: Red 
No. 32, Orange 1 and Orange 2. In announcing the ban, 
the FDA told food and beverage manufacturers they could 
legally use up previously certified stocks of the colors, but 
cautioned them that foods containing excessive quantities 
of these colors “can cause illness to consumers.” 

The law protecting the manufacturers was stressed to 
protect them from financial loss, but the law guaranteeing 
the safety of the dyes when used in any amount was ig¬ 
nored, leaving the public to take the risk. 

How slowly the law grinds in getting a harmful chem¬ 
ical out of the diet is indicated by the timetable that gov¬ 
erned the decertification proceedings. The original “notice 
of hearing” was published in the Federal Register on De¬ 
cember 19, 1953, but the ban didn’t go into effect until 
February 15, 1956. All that time the public continued to 
eat substances that had been found to be too poisonous for 
human consumption, even by the government’s generous 
allowances. 

The list of damages caused in animals by the three dyes 
reads like a catalogue of biological horrors — and the 
amounts used were small. The dyes caused everything 
from loss of appetite to death. 


104 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


The report stated in part: 

When FD&C Red No. 32 was fed to rats at 
a level of 2.0 per cent of the diet, all the rats 
died within a week. At a 1.0 per cent level, 
death occurred within 12 days. At 0.5 per cent, 
most of the rats died within 26 days. At 0.25 
per cent approximately half of the rats died 
within 3 months. All the rats showed marked 
growth retardation and anemia. Autopsy re¬ 
vealed moderate to marked liver damage. Sim¬ 
ilar but less severe results were obtained with 
rats on a diet containing 0.1 per cent of FD&C 
Red No. 32. In addition to liver damage, how¬ 
ever, autopsy also revealed enlargement of the 
right side of the heart in this latter group. Sub¬ 
cutaneous injection of approximately 10 milli¬ 
grams per week caused death within 8 weeks 
to most rats on the experiment. These rats ex¬ 
hibited anemia, hemorrhage, and reduction in 
the size of the liver. Dogs taking 100 milligrams 
per kilogram of body weight per day showed 
moderate weight loss. A level of 0.2 per cent of 
FD&C Red No. 32 in the diet of dogs caused 
rapid deterioration and weight loss and sporadic 
diarrhea, moderate atrophy of vital organs, and 
muscular dystrophy; 0.01 per cent in the diet 
caused weight loss and the death of one out of 
four dogs. A single oral dose gave diarrhea in 
the majority of the dogs tested. . . . 

An idea of the small amounts of dye necessary to bring 
about these adverse effects may be had by pointing out that 
100 milligrams weighs about the same as two postage 
stamps. 

The report also reveals that the results of tests of Orange 
No. 1 were similar to those of Red No. 32. Red No. 32 
had been used to color cheese, edible fats, oils, candy, 
bakery goods and the skins of oranges.* 

When the FDA ordered the ban on Oranges 1 and 2 and 
Red No. 32, industry vigorously countered by insisting the 
dyes were not harmful to human beings when used in 
small amounts and claimed that without them certain in- 

*Red No. 32 subsequently was outlawed as a dye for oranges 
and replaced by Red No. 2 which also is of questionable 
toxicity. 




DYES—THE 'INNOCENT' CARCINOGENS 


105 


dustries would be ruined. Florida and Texas orange grow¬ 
ers insisted that if they waited for their fruit to turn orange 
it would be overripe and ruined. An industry spokesman 
said that more than half the Florida orange crops was run 
through a dye bath to give green oranges an orange color. 

The hearing disclosed that canned and frozen orange 
juice often contain dye; this was said to come from pre¬ 
viously colored “packing house rejects” that were bought 
by the freezing and canning industry. 

When the Government first tried to ban the use of Red 
32 to dye oranges, industry spokesmen argued that the dye 
is just in the peel, which usually is discarded, although it 
was conceded that orange peels are used in many ways: 
as candied orange peel, marmalade, and in drinks such as 
orangeade and old-fashioneds, and also, extensively in bak¬ 
ing cakes and icings. 

Another use for orange peel, noted by Dr. Clive McCay, 
was in controlling diarrhea in babies. In such use, he said, 
peels “might be ingested by babies for a long time period 
and the added chemical (artificial dye) might be very 
important.” 

Although industry spokesmen claimed children throw 
away the peel when eating an orange, a state health official 
who discussed this subject in connection with another mat¬ 
ter gave a different picture. Dr. Geoffrey Martin, of the 
Kansas State Board of Health, in a government publica¬ 
tion, commented on a case involving preservatives on 
fruit: 

“Children, and particularly young children, are a special 
group in the population whose eating habits are different. 
In eating an orange, for example, a child frequently goes 
about it in such a way that he scrapes off and consumes 
the outer layer of the peel—together with the chemicals 
that have been added to it. Children are also unmodcrate 
eaters; a child may happily consume rather large numbers 
of oranges each day in this way while adults would gen¬ 
erally eat one or two. Children arc less apt than adults 
to wash and clean an orange before eating it. . . 

He said that whatever harm there was in the chemicals 
present “would probably be realized in children.” At the 
same time, he continued, “children, as growing organisms, 
are obviously variable in weight, and in addition—because 
they arc growing—may handle synthetic chemical sub¬ 
stances in a manner different from that of adults. . . ." 




106 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


Along with the dye in an orange peel, there may be vari¬ 
ous preservatives. Oranges and other fruits, such as apples, 
lemons and limes, are likely to be waxed with a coal-tar- 
derivative paraffin (highly suspect as a carcinogenic sub¬ 
stance); and they also may be contaminated with phenolic 
compounds and other preservatives previously mentioned— 
questionable substances which have cumulative tendencies 
and are believed to interfere with metabolic processes that 
are essential to health. All of these chemicals could be 
consumed in the skin of an orange. 

Despite the recognized toxicity of several of the dyes 
now used in foods it appears certain that Congress, with 
the blessing of the FDA, will set tolerance levels so that 
they can be used in small amounts. 

In anticipation that such tolerances may be granted to 
all or some of the coal-tar dyes, a comment by Dr. G. 
Martin is pertinent. Dr. Martin addressed hims elf to what 
he described as “the so-called absolute protection afforded 
by FDA tolerances.” Noting that certain chemical sub¬ 
stances in use had been tested by the FDA and found to 
be safe for human consumption, he said: 

“In our opinion, this ‘protection’ is almost wholly il¬ 
lusory. If a substance is found to be ‘safe,’ the safety is 
only in terms of present knowledge and tests and may be 
completely upset by better knowledge and further tests, 
and ... in general synthetic chemicals may only be con¬ 
sidered as safe when used within established tolerances— 
and the FDA does not have the money or the people to 
give any guaranty to the public that the limits of tolerance 
are being observed by commercial processors. 

“There are numerous examples which will be known to 
you of synthetic chemicals which have been considered 
safe for human consumption, and then found to be unsafe 
and reduced to zero tolerances. It is also well known to 
you, I am sure, that the job of policing tolerances calls 
for a large staff which the FDA has not had, does not 
have, and perhaps never will have.” 

(3) 

The risk the public is forced to assume by ingesting the 
synthetic dyes is underlined by the irony that it also may be 
cheated nutritionally and financially by the use of these 
substances in foods. 






DYES—THE "INNOCENT' CARCINOGENS 


107 


Dyes have been used in baked goods to suggest the pres¬ 
ence of missing ingredients. Consumers’ Research ob¬ 
served that “if the consumer buys dyed store cake on the 
assumption that the yellow means the cake contains egg 
yolk, he is being cheated, for very often bright, attractive 
color indicates nothing except the presence of a coal-tar 
dye of uncertain safety that makes a nutritionally skimped 
food resemble a food of better quality.” The Delaney 
Committee report stated that “there are indications that 
the use of artificial coloring matter is increased when quan¬ 
tities of whole eggs or egg yolks are reduced in commercial 
cake formulas.” 

Another instance of using dye to deceive the consumer 
is the addition of color to make pale winter butter look like 
summer butter, which is more nutritious. 

But dye is not the only chemical used to mask deficien¬ 
cies in butter When butter is stored a long time or shipped 
great distances it must be washed to preserve it. The long 
storage periods of our great butter surpluses is a well- 
known fact. Washing removes the aroma of butter and is 
believed to destroy its vitamin A. So, before the butter 
is used, a dash of the chemical diacetyl is added. Diacetyl 
has been described as “a very reactive substance . . . [that] 
exerts a definite oxidizing action on fats.” The chemical 
restores the missing aroma but, unfortunately, not the 
missing vitamin A. 

The handbook of the Food Protection Committee of the 
National Academy of Sciences lists diacetyl as an additive 
that is being used today in butter, margarine, buttermilk, 
cottage cheese and baked goods. 

A similar issue of deception is posed by the use of ni¬ 
trated flour, which has a yellow cast, to suggest the appear¬ 
ance of eggs. The effect is achieved by treating the flour 
with nitric acid, a very poisonous substance which the 
FDA says has not been proved safe. Nitrated flour is il¬ 
legal in standardized products, such as bread, for which 
the ingredients that can be used are specified, but it may 
be employed without restriction in other baked goods. 

These substances, like the dyes, pose not only serious 
health problems but also the moral issues that have been 
pondered by scientists who arc concerned about the ex¬ 
panding adulteration and nutritional deterioration of the 
food supply, not only in this country but generally through¬ 
out the world. 



108 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


Dr. P. R. Peacock, of the Royal Cancer Hospital in 
Glasgow, Scotland, said: 

“I think it is very pertinent to ask why foreign substances 
are put in foods. In the case of preservatives, I can under¬ 
stand that there are needs to add something to assure that 
the food will reach the consumer without deteriorating, 
and the consumer wants that. But is this true of artificial 
colors? 

“Who wants to add artificial colors to foods? Do we, as 
physicians, as men of science, wish it? Certainly, we have 
no interest in advocating addition of artificial colors to 
foods, for, as Dr. Reding [a noted Belgian cancer spe¬ 
cialist] pointed out, they add nothing of nutritive value. 
Does the consumer want it? It seems to me that the in¬ 
terests of consumers are to get food that retains its nutri¬ 
tive value, its taste, and its own color. 

“Consumers might well, for example, refuse to eat pink 
peas. True, consumers buy a great many artificially colored 
foods, but is this not an artificial demand created by those 
who wish to market artificial colors? Is not the basic issue 
a desire by marketing interests to obtain certificates of 
harmlessness for these substances? 

“Now, scientists might be able to furnish guarantees of 
one sort or another along this line after many years of 
study, but is there any reason to do all these studies and 
put off a decision for an indefinite time if the matter can 
be resolved now? 

“Human beings are walking colonies of cells, which, in 
the course of thousands of years of evolution, have learned 
how to metabolize or adapt to many natural substances 
with which they have come into contact. Today, chemists 
have produced hundreds of substances that never existed 
before, and it may take thousands more years of evolution 
to learn how our bodies will react to these new synthetic 
substances. We cannot consider the laboratory animals on 
which we do our tests as little men, and give certificates 
of harmlessness for men to substances tested on animals. 
[Author’s emphasis.] 

“Even in tests on three or more generations of no mat¬ 
ter how many different kinds of animals, we can never be 
entirely sure that the results would be the same in men. 
There are substances that will produce tumors in one spe¬ 
cies of animal but not in another. It is entirely possible 





TEST-TUBE MEAT 


109 


that a substance judged harmless by any of our tests on 
laboratory animals may produce cancer in man. 

“On the basis of these considerations, there would appear 
to be no justification, from the purely scientific point of 
view, for the needless addition of artificial substances to 
foods that are intended for human beings to eat.” 


7 

Test-Tube Meat 

Probably no article in the American diet is as thor¬ 
oughly tampered with as meat. 

Beef, for example: In addition to being laced with pesti¬ 
cides, the average steak or roast probably comes from a 
cow born through artificial insemination, raised with an 
artificial sex-hormone implant in its ear, fed synthetic 
hormones, anti-biotics and insecticides, and shot with tran¬ 
quilizers; even its natural pasturage is contaminated with 
radioactive fallout. If the animal survives the chemical 
onslaught, it is slaughtered—generally by an inhumane 
method—and sold as meat, which constitutes the primary 
source of protein in the human diet. 

Cold meats and meat products are subjected to addi¬ 
tional chemical treatments before they go to the consumer. 
Agents used in this processing include perservativcs and 
curing agents, antioxidants, flavoring materials, coloring 
materials (including some of the coal-tar dyes), emulsi¬ 
fiers and refining and bleaching agents. 

Even fresh meats, which are not supposed to be chem¬ 
ically tampered with after they leave the slaughter house, 
may, in some cases, receive a few licks of forbidden chem¬ 
icals from unscrupulous butchers. Illegal though this is 
under Federal standards and some state laws, the cheating 
butcher and his surreptitious chemicals arc difficult to 
catch. The consumer also must be wary about the number 
of sick chickens that are sold today in prepackaged con¬ 
tainers that prevent the housewife from getting a good 
look at what she’s buying. 


110 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


But it’s down on the farm, that outpost of twentieth 
century agricultural chemistry, that the real mischief takes 
place. Practically nothing that grows there escapes some 
form of chemical alteration. Along with all the things 
already done to beef cattle, they are expected soon to start 
getting still another chemical jolt. According to the es¬ 
teemed Farm Journal (June, 1968) research is being con¬ 
ducted to force activated charcoal down the throats of 
cows to trap some pesticide residues, much in the way that 
filters trap tars in cigarettes; this would be fortified by 
treatment with the “enzyme-stimulating drug phenobar- 
bitol”. . . “your veterinarian can give you a prescription.” 
Other drugs are used to slow down the metabolism of cat¬ 
tle so they will put on more weight with less food. Being 
a cow isn’t very pleasant or rewarding (to the cow) these 
days. 

Cows are not the only meat animals to receive medica¬ 
tions of various kinds to interfere with their normal bodily 
functions. Poultry, lambs and swine also are dosed with 
chemicals. 

Some 90 per cent of all the cattle that go to market each 
year, and 100,000,000 chickens, are estimated to be get¬ 
ting artificial hormones. The skyrocketing use of these 
powerful substances is indicated by the fact that only a 
few years ago estimates were that just half the cattle for 
market and 30,000,000 chickens were getting synthetic 
hormones. 

Feeding antibiotics and tranquilizers to other meat ani¬ 
mals is practiced almost universally in this country. Chick¬ 
ens and turkeys are dipped in antibiotics to increase their 
shelf life; and only recently the FDA gave permission for 
antibiotics to be fed to milk cattle. At the same time, 
numerous experiments on meat animals are under way 
with an arsenal of new and powerful medications that 
mean bigger profits for the chemical manufacturer, the 
packer and sometimes even the farmer. What they mean to 
the cow and the consuming public is seldom mentioned. 

An idea of the stake the public has in this mass use of 
chemicals in its meat supply is suggested by an article in 
the magazine National Livestock Producer. It stated that 
the average American, if he survives his theoretical life 
expectancy of some sixty-eight years, will consume the 
meat equivalent of thirty-three hogs, ten lambs, eight steers 
and four veal calves. A scholarly study by the American 




TEST-TUBE MEAT 


111 


Meat Institute disclosed that all the frankfurters eaten by 
Americans this year would stretch to the moon and back, 
and there would be enough left over to encircle the earth 
five times, like a chain of satellites; in less fanciful terms, 
Americans eat five and one-half billion frankfurters a year! 

The animals that supply this meat are subjected, vir¬ 
tually from the hour of birth, and probably before birth, 
to a bombardment of chemicals that produce radical 
changes in their basic physiology, and this continues until 
a few hours before they are slaughtered; in some cases it 
continues right up to the moment of death; there is, in 
addition, the frequent posthumous chemical treatment 
mentioned earlier. 

The public is asked to believe that the meat from these 
biologically altered animals is not harmful to the people 
who eat it, and that nutritionally it is on a par (or even 
superior) to meat from untreated animals. The public also 
is asked to believe there is no danger from the chemicals 
that remain in the meat when it is eaten. 

As usual, the critical question revolves around one point: 
the long-term effect of eating small amounts of poisons that 
in larger doses would be extremely harmful or fatal. 

The most powerful substance given to meat animals is 
the artificial sex hormone diethylstilbestrol—better known 
as stilbestrol. This is a man-made chemical with an activ¬ 
ity very similar to that of the natural female sex hor¬ 
mones; but it is more powerful than the natural hormones 
when taken orally because it is not broken down signif¬ 
icantly in the liver. It is so potent that it has been called 
biological dynamite and, more fancifully, “queen of the 
hormones.” 

Like virtually every other additive, stilbestrol benefits the 
producer rather than the consumer. Farm and Ranch 
Magazine reported that sixteen cents’ worth of stilbestrol 
in a cow’s ear brings an extra twelve dollars’ worth of beef, 
and when mixed with feed the cattle gain fifteen per cent 
faster on twelve per cent less feed; its use is said to be 
worth 675,000,000 pounds of beef annually. 

Stilbestrol pellets were used in chickens from about 
1947 until 1958. Directions called for inserting one pellet 
into the upper region of the neck, at the base of the brain, 
about four to eight weeks before marketing, during which 
period the chemical is slowly absorbed into the bird’s 
system. 


112 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


Male birds given this treatment rapidly lose many male 
characteristics; combs, wattles and reproductive organs 
shrivel, and the propensity for crowing and fighting disap¬ 
pears. These birds are called “caponettes” or “hormonized 
fryers.” Results from stilbestrol are very similar to those 
obtained by surgically castrating the male bird. The popu¬ 
larity of the chemical method was due, primarily, to the 
ease and speed with which the “castrating” process could 
be accomplished, and the fact that the farmer needed no 
special training to use it. 

The Delaney Committee’s report described stilbestrol as 
“a potent and dangerous chemical, which cannot be pur¬ 
chased in drug stores for medical purposes without a phy¬ 
sician’s prescription.” It could have added that a farmer 
can buy all he wants for the asking in feed-supply houses. 

This accessibility is of particular interest in view of a 
warning from a noted endocrinologist that “stilbestrol is a 
potent drug and serious consequences may result unless it 
is used under constant medical supervision. Physicians 
who use this drug should be familiar with its indications, 
dosage, precautions, and particularly the possible detri¬ 
mental effects. Extreme care should be taken to avoid over¬ 
dosage. It is also desirable that the breast and pelvic or¬ 
gans be examined before treatment is instituted as well as 
during therapy.” 

Stilbestrol has caused a wide range of pathological 
changes in human beings and animals when taken in suffi¬ 
cient dosage. Doctors use it therapeutically in cases in¬ 
volving an estrogen deficiency. One witness, however, 
testified before the Delaney Committee that many gyne¬ 
cologists and obstetricians “are particularly against it, and 
in the big medical centers it is very definitely on the way 
out.” 

The substance is an acknowledged carcinogen, and warn¬ 
ings against its use in foods have been sounded by Dr. 
Hueper and the International Union Against Cancer. 
Dr. Hueper in 1967 (Medical World) said, “There can 
be no doubt that stilbestrol and other estrogens are also 
carcinogens for several species of experimental animals in 
which they induce not only cancers of the breast and 
uterus but also those affecting the kidneys, bladder, testis, 
and blood forming organs.” He added that results may 
not be borne out in humans, “but the suspicion that estro¬ 
gens might have such effects is provided by scattered ob- 




TEST-TUBE MEAT 


113 


servations” of women and men who developed cancers 
after receiving massive amounts of stilbestrol in an effort 
to control tumors. It is established that estrogens will ac¬ 
celerate the growth of some tumors already established, 
especially breast cancer in younger women. 

Dr. Harold V. Burrows, author of Biological Actions of 
Sex Hormones, states that in women there is evidence that 
there is a connection between the administering of estro¬ 
gens and the appearance of breast cancer. “Not only does 
the clinical evidence point to such a conclusion,” he stated, 
“but now, with the lapse of time, cases are being reported 
in which cancer of the breast has followed prolonged 
treatment with estrogens.” 

Stilbestrol also is known to be capable of arresting the 
growth of children, bringing on excess menstrual bleeding, 
fibroids of the uterus, premenstrual tension and painful 
breasts. It has also caused impotence and sterility in men. 
In animals it has been shown to cause cysts and cancers 
of the uterus, cervix and breast, tumors of the testicles and 
leukemias. 

Exactly how estrogens like stilbestrol work in the body 
is not known, but it is believed that they affect the pituitary 
or master gland, and they are known to change the entire 
blood picture. They also are believed to affect the body’s 
enzyme systems, on which all bodily functions depend, 
and to interfere with vital functions in the liver. 

An outspoken critic of the use of stilbestrol in food has 
been Dr. Robert K. Enders, chairman of the department 
of zoology at Swarthmore College and an unsalaried ad¬ 
visor to the U. S. Department of Agriculture and the De¬ 
partment of the Interior. He pointed out the extreme dan¬ 
ger of having such a potent drug readily available. 

“The chain of consequences that might arise from such 
use indicates that the availability of pellets which can be 
bought at any feed store may come to constitute a great 
hazard. Anyone who has examined the reproductive tracts 
in experimental animals fed on poultry waste (from stil- 
bestrol-treated animals) shudders at this prospect. Cystic 
ovaries, paper-thin uterine walls, dead and resorbing em¬ 
bryos follow such use. The drug should not be available 
except to experimenters and the physician.” 

Dr. Enders added that if the use of stilbestrol and other 
hormones in the fattening of animals becomes widespread 


114 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


(as it has), “we may be able to paraphrase, and say, ‘The 
vegetarians will inherit the earth.’ ” 

The customary defense of stilbestrol is that little estrogen 
activity remains in the meat after the animal is slaught¬ 
ered. This defense, as usual, overlooks the fact that stil¬ 
bestrol has a cumulative effect, and it is so powerful that 
less than a millionth of an ounce is said to be a physiolog¬ 
ically active quantity. Modern Medicine recently reported 
that a farmer who used stilbestrol pellets and paste for his 
chickens apparently handled the stuff with the usual lack 
of caution of the laity. The result: the farmer’s 14-month- 
old son got big breasts, as did the child’s two-year-old sis¬ 
ter, and their mother had periods twice a month. 

More important than the danger of an occasional acci¬ 
dental large dose of stilbestrol is the hazard of repeated 
small doses. Several researchers have found that the drug 
is more toxic in small amounts than in large doses. British 
investigators in the anatomy department of Kings College, 
London, concluded that, in animals treated with stilbestrol, 
the death rate was higher in those who received a daily dose 
of one-tenth of a milligram than in those who received a 
daily dose of one to five milligrams. 

Dr. Malcolm Stokes, writing in the Journal of Surgery, 
Obstetrics and Gynecology, stated that “undoubtedly, single 
large doses of estrogenic substances are quickly excreted 
and are unimportant in regard to carcinogenic activity. 
On the other hand, long continued, repeated administra¬ 
tion of relatively small doses may intensify tissue response 
to the hormone.” 

A researcher who has had much to say about the effects 
of small repeated doses of stilbestrol is the late Dr. Carl 
G. Hartman, director of physiology and pharmacology for 
Ortho Research Foundation, a branch of Johnson & John¬ 
son. He was also consultant to the U. S. Department of 
Agriculture, a specialist in physiology and reproduction, 
and a former professor at Johns Hopkins and other major 
colleges. 

He testified that “supporters of the use of stilbestrol al¬ 
ways cite that the drug is used in medicine, with the in¬ 
ference that it is therefore harmless,” and “they point out 
that large doses have been given patients without disaster. 

. . . They never mention the fact that small amounts, 
even minute amounts, given over a longer period may give 
results that differ from those where larger dosages are 



TEST-TUBE MEAT 


115 


given under the supervision of a physician. Yet, the litera¬ 
ture shows that extremely minute doses can effectively 
sterilize and injure laboratory animals where larger doses 
have no long-range effect.” 

In the minds of medical men, he said—“and I have 
talked to hundreds of them—estrogen is a means of stim¬ 
ulating cancer.” He said he had not been able to produce 
it in monkeys, “but in other animals cancer has been pro¬ 
duced, and you do not need to give it continuously. 

“It was found in some experiments ... if you give estro¬ 
gen to a rat which is genetically noncancerous—that is to 
say, in a thousand you might find one case of cancer—in 
three months’ time you can produce cancer. In seventy- 
five per cent of the cases they get cancer. We find if you 
give a little and then stop a while and then give a little 
more and stop a while and then give a little more, it is 
better than giving it continuously.” 

Shortly after chickens started being injected with hor¬ 
mone pellets, mink growers began feeding the offal of 
treated chickens to their animals and many of the mink 
became sterile. Dr. Enders said the number of minks so 
affected “was in the thousands.” 

He noted that one experimenter “fed minute quantities 
to mink—and when I say ‘minute,’ that is in the order of, 
say, ten to fifteen gamma a day, and a gamma being one 
thirty-five millionth of an ounce. What happens in these 
cases is that in these small doses an effect is built up that 
is quite different from the large doses that are given to 
human beings or to experimental animals.” 

Dr. Enders testified he had seen many minks that had 
been fed discarded parts of stilbestrol-treated fowl. 
“ . . . they lost their hair, they were fat and puffy, you 
could put your finger in the skin and dimple it and the 
skin would' not come back, there were scales around the 
external orifices because something was wrong with the 
urine, and ... the few survivors were the most miserable 
animals I have ever seen for animals that were still 
breathing.” 

Q. Was there any effect on reproduction? 

A. There just was not any reproduction. 

Dr. Enders was asked by a member of the Delaney Com¬ 
mittee what authority the Food and Drug Administration 
had to deal with stilbestrol. “I don’t know, sir,” he replied. 
“All I know about any of this is that, as I understand it, 


116 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


the use of this drug was based on what you might call ex 
parte hearings at which only one side was represented.” 

Stilbestrol also was considered for use in Canada. Ex¬ 
periments were conducted with women who had passed 
their menopause. After they ate the livers of stilbestrol- 
treated chickens for four days, tissue changes took place 
in their vaginal tracts (comification of the mucosa of the 
vagina). It is against the law now to feed stilbestrol to 
food animals in Canada. 

Endocrinologists point out that the balance between 
male and female hormones in the body is extremely deli¬ 
cate, and sex hormones, among other factors, determine 
and affect certain sex characteristics; the quantity and pro¬ 
portion may affect sex drive, development of sex organs, 
breast development, quantity of facial and body hair, 
height, voice pitch and similar characteristics. A signifi¬ 
cant imbalance between male and female sex hormones 
in the body is said to result in the individual’s acquiring 
some physical characteristics of the opposite sex. 

Among the hormone experts who have warned about 
the possible sexual repercussions stilbestrol-treated meat 
may have on human beings is Dr. Christian Hamburger of 
Copenhagen, who helped ex-GI George Jorgensen of New 
York become “Christine” and Charles McLeod of New 
Orleans convert to “Charlotte.” 

In 1957, Dr. Hamburger said that men who ate hor¬ 
mone-treated fowl may develop feminite characteristics. 
He said Danish health authorities prohibited the use of 
hormones for capons. After breeders inserted female hor¬ 
mones into the muscles of the fowl, some men who ate 
the treated capons became temporaritly impotent. The 
hormones were not destroyed in cooking, he said. 

Curiously, in 1951 the FDA warned that the use of sex 
hormones without a doctor’s order might cause cancer or 
sterility, stating that women might do “serious injury” to 
their reproductive organs by unsupervised use of female 
sex hormones. 

The warning, issued in connection with the crackdown 
on two Los Angeles firms that were selling tablets contain¬ 
ing the male sex hormone testosterone, cautioned men in 
particular not to take these testosterone pills. 

In September 1958, hormones in meat were in the news 
again, this time with sound and fury. Time Magazine car¬ 
ried a story out of Rio de Janeiro with an inspired lead 




TEST-TUBE MEAT 


117 


which stated that readers of a newspaper there were 
“shaken to their gonads by the blaring headline: terror 

IN BRAZIL-MEN FEMINIZED.” 

Time pointed out that the panic was caused by a charge 
that men had been feminized by eating beef of steers fat¬ 
tened with the aid of stilbestrol. One Sebastiao de Lima 
Serra of Aracatuba reportedly had suffered a “veritable 
metamorphosis, turning into a docile, falsetto-voiced crea¬ 
ture of strange customs.” Serra was said to have blamed 
his plight on hormone-treated beef, and Time quoted Rio’s 
state government as proclaiming: “The necessary measures 
will be taken to end this evil.” 

As an indication of how people reacted to this knowl¬ 
edge, Time stated that before competent authorities could 
decide whether there was any evil to end, sales of beef had 
dropped 40 per cent in Rio, as much as 80 per cent in 
other cities, and the price of tenderloin had plummeted 
from 50 cents a pound to three cents. Millions of Brazil¬ 
ians took to a fish diet. 

Time noted that hormone-fattening of meat is a com¬ 
mon practice in the United States, but assured its readers 
that there was “probably” nothing to Senhor Serra’s claim, 
explaining that “nearly all the hormone is metabolized” 
and "virtually none can ever be found in the meat if the 
hormone feeding is stopped (as required under U. S. regu¬ 
lations) 48 hours before slaughter.” [Emphasis the 
author’s.] 

A similar reaction erupted in Italy in December, 1968, 
when a TV program informed Romans that their meat 
was treated with stilbestrol. Variety reported that “meat 
sales plummeted, newspapers launched an all-out campaign 
and the Ministry of Health began a special investigation 
last week after an RAI-TV current events program . . . 
revealed that a large percentage of veal sold in Italy is 
treated with estrogens, which cause loss of virility and 
possible cancer.” The program stated that of 85 meat 
samples from various parts of the country only two were 
certified free of the drugs. The producer of the TV pro¬ 
gram, Emilio Fede, was “nominated for the Gold Medal 
of Public Health.” 

In contrast to this reassurance offered by Time is the 
statement by Dr. Hartman that men are “very sensitive to 
estrogens,” and that researchers have demonstrated radical 


118 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


changes in their sexual capacity with tiny amounts of the 
substances. Dr. Hartman said: 

“When you take the marginal cases, where the man has 
between fifty and sixty million sperm per cubic centimeter 
of the ejaculation, he is a borderline case. He may sire a 
child, but the chances are he will not.” 

These observations take on added impact when it is 
noted that one in every ten American marriages is infertile 
today, according to estimates by experts in the field. Since 
World War II alone, an estimated 100,000 babies have 
been bom through test-tube methods, due to the infertility 
of American husbands; men are said to be the sole or con¬ 
tributing cause of sterility in about 40 per cent of the 
country’s three million barren marriages. 

Sterility has become such a widespread phenomenon in 
this country that, in 1952, the late Dr. Abner I. Weisman, 
then associate secretary general of the International Fer¬ 
tility Association, said that 15,000,000 Americans are bar¬ 
ren, and more people in the United States face this prob¬ 
lem than the total number who suffer from the country’s 
six most widespread diseases. Statistically, this would mean 
that almost ten per cent of the American marriages are 
sterile. 

Precisely what happens to stilbestrol when it is ingested 
is unknown. Only a small proportion can be accounted 
for, but studies show that it is not entirely broken down 
in the body. The Journal of the American Medical Asso¬ 
ciation reported that hogs feeding in pastures occupied by 
stilbestrol-fed steers suffer “severe gonadal regression” be¬ 
cause of the steroid content of the cattle’s urine and feces. 

Why stilbestrol causes cattle to put on increased weight 
with less feed is not known, but the FDA has said: “Hy¬ 
pertrophy (excessive development) of the liver, of the 
adrenal glands, and of the pituitary without specific cellu¬ 
lar changes have been reported. These observations seem 
to indicate that there is a change in the endocrine gland 
metabolism.. ..” 

Pointing to the effects estrogens have on the glands, Dr. 
Hartman observed that “whenever you tamper with one 
gland you tamper with all the others. When the ovaries 
or the testes are removed, the physiological effect is pro¬ 
found in the organism. If you give too much thyroid, you 
injure the ovary or the testes. We have to think of the 
body as a whole, and when you have an excess of one hor- 




TEST-TUBE MEAT 


119 


mone over another you get effects which reverberate with 
the entire organism.” 

As justification for using stilbestrol as an implant and 
in feeds, it often is asserted that animals and even some 
plants secrete natural hormones, and they are able to me¬ 
tabolize and excrete them without adverse effects. They 
fail to note that stilbestrol is not a natural estrogen. It is 
a synthetic product. 

Another consideration generally overlooked is the liver’s 
role in detoxifying or deactivating stilbestrol. If the liver 
functions improperly because of poor nutrition or is dam¬ 
aged by the bombardment of poisons in the diet, then it 
will not be able to regulate the delicate hormonal balance 
in the body. The average woman has all the estrogen she 
needs; if more is added, the liver must deactivate it to 
maintain the balance. Still another burden is placed on the 
already overworked liver, and thus the hormonal balance 
may be jeopardized. 

This is of particular significance because of the wide¬ 
spread liver damage among the population, and the likeli¬ 
hood that there will be more as the flood of chemicals in 
foods gains momentum. 

What effect is this having on us as individuals and a 
nation? Is the man-made hormonal imbalance a factor in 
the increasing amount of impotence and sterility? An en¬ 
docrinologist, pointing to the ability of stilbestrol to stim¬ 
ulate females at the same time that it reduces the male’s 
sexual prowess, posed this tantalizing question: “Are we 
going to end up a nation of nymphomaniacs and impotent 
men?” 

Both Dr. Hartman and Dr. Enders said that most of the 
weight put on chickens by use of stilbestrol implants was 
primarily fat and water. It is estimated that stilbestrol in¬ 
creases the weight of chickens about 20 per cent. Dr. 
Hartman said the fat of treated fowl differs chemically 
from that of normally fattened birds; “it is watery and in¬ 
ferior culinarily.” He said the fat does not render like or¬ 
dinary chicken fat “but leaves great strands in the pan.” 
He explained that the excess fat raises the cost of the flesh 
part of the carcass, which has been purchased by the 
pound. Dr. Hartman said investigators at the State College 
of Mississippi found that the fat from stilbcstrol-trcatcd 
animals, when compared with ordinary fat, differed chem- 


120 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


ically “in certain fat tests, so that the molecules of fat are 
even different, entirely aside from the water content.” 

Dr. Enders said the stilbestrol produced no more breast 
in the chicken, but the skin of the animal became very 
nice and smooth because of the water and fat under it. 
“It increases the appearance of the fowl,” he said, “it in¬ 
creases the attractiveness very, very, much.” 

On the economic side, he continued, “I agree with those 
endocrinologists who say that the use of the drug to fatten 
poultry is an economic fraud. Chicken feed is not saved; it 
is merely turned into fat instead of protein. Fat is abun¬ 
dant in the American diet, so more is undesirable. Pro¬ 
tein is what one wants from poultry. By their own ad¬ 
mission it is the improvement in appearance and increase 
in fat that makes it more profitable to the poultryman to 
use the drug. This fat is of very doubtful value and is in 
no way the dietary equal to the protein that the consumer 
thinks he is paying for.” 

Government officials repeatedly have insisted that stilbes- 
trol-treated meat is as high in quality as untreated meat, 
but there are many indications that this might be a some¬ 
what flexible interpretation of the facts. 

The U. S. Department of Agriculture, in a release dated 
July 20, 1956, stated that its studies showed that stilbestrol 
could be used in cattle “without adverse effect on meat 
quality as measured by usual evaluation methods, includ¬ 
ing taste-panel tests.” The previous year, however, Jack 
M. Curtis of the FDA told a group of health officials that 
when cattle were fed stilbestrol “usually the carcass quality 
is about one grade lower.” 

Experimenters at Kentucky University also found that 
cattle not fed stilbestrol had higher carcass grades and 
sales values than treated animals. “On the hoof,” they 
stated, “the stilbestrol groups appeared to have extra bloom 
and finish when compared to the non-stilbestrol groups, 
but this was not borne out when the carcasses were 
studied.” 

A more revealing item appeared in the August 1955 issue 
of Farm Journal, which gave farmers this intrepid advice: 
“If you feed stilbestrol to your cattle, better not say any¬ 
thing about it when you send them to market. You might 
end by getting less money.” 

More serious than the question of quality and taste is 
how much stilbestrol remains in the meat of treated ani- 



TEST-TUBE MEAT 


121 


mals when they are marketed. Dr. Enders told the Delaney 
Committee that “it is surprising that the United States De¬ 
partment of Agriculture has not had this problem investi¬ 
gated more extensively, as it is basic to the issue.” He 
said it cannot be claimed that the stilbestrol in the body 
tissues is inactive; this substance upon being removed and 
reinjected in another animal has “a profound effect on the 
pituitary.” 

For a long time it was assumed that when chickens with 
stilbestrol implants were killed, the pellets would be dis¬ 
solved. Later it was found out that this wasn’t true; part 
of the pellet had to remain undissolved until the time the 
bird was killed or it would have reverted to its male 
characteristics. 

The danger of getting part of the pellet in food was fre¬ 
quently emphasized. Dr. Willard Machle, professor of oc¬ 
cupational medicine at New York University and an of¬ 
ficial of the National Research Council, observed that in 
homes for the indigent and in many institutions it was 
quite possible that the remnants of a choice-cut fowl, such 
as the upper portion of the neck where the pellet was im¬ 
planted, may have been used for soups, broths, or cooked 
for serving. “So I would say that a very definite potential 
hazard exists.” 

Others noted that since stilbestrol was not destroyed 
in cooking, if any part of the pellet was present in the fowl 
when used, it probably would be consumed in its entirety 
if made into soup. Dr. Hartman pointed out that “the liver 
and body fat store more of the hormone than any other 
organ, as has been known for twenty years—and people eat 
chicken livers.” 

The possibilities of getting part of the pellet were spelled 
out by testimony before the Delaney Committee. It was 
pointed out that the pellet may be walled off by tissue and 
not absorbed into the bird, or it may move elsewhere from 
the point of injection in the bird’s carcass. Another pos¬ 
sibility noted was that the market often changes abruptly 
and the farmer might market the bird without waiting the 
required number of days for the pellet to dissolve. 

In nine lots of treated poultry entering the New York 
market, about 70 per cent of the birds had parts of the 
pellets still remaining in them, according to testimony be¬ 
fore the Delaney Committee. 

Of the original fifteen-milligram implant, two to four 


122 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


milligrams remained. In at least half of the birds, the stil- 
bestrol had been inserted one to one and one-half inches 
below the base of the skull, and a significant number of 
birds were said to have the pellet two or more inches below 
the spot where-it was supposed to be inserted; this would 
mean it probably would have been consumed in the neck. 

After spotting these violations, the FDA seized about 
60,000 pounds entering the New York market and found 
pellet residues ranging from three milligrams to more than 
twenty-four milligrams. 

Following the government crack-down, shippers tried to 
slip stilbestrol-treated birds past inspectors by designating 
them as “roasters,” rather than capons. 

The FDA seized the “roasters.” In the necks removed 
from 200 birds, 95 per cent contained pellets estimated to 
average between five to seven milligrams. More than 50 
per cent were one inch or more below the base of the skull. 
In one subsequent seizure, a pellet was found implanted in 
a chicken’s back, along with several other violations. These 
pellets often migrate in the loose tissue under the skin, no 
matter where they are originally placed. 

In some seized chickens, according to testimony, there 
were remnants of as many as four pellets; the farmers ob¬ 
viously believed that if one pellet was good, four were that 
much better. Dr. Theodore C. Byerly, of the USDA, testi¬ 
fied there was “no way of controlling the man who im¬ 
plants pellets and saying he is permitted to implant one. 
He might implant twelve, if he so chose, though it is an 
added expense. It is remotely possible he might elect to 
do so... .” 

The Delaney Committee, evaluating the difficulty of 
catching all violations, observed that the FDA has only a 
limited staff to cover the entire country, and that the 
agency could not possibly hope to sample and examine 
every interstate shipment. “Inevitably,” it concluded, 
“many shipments of food must traverse state lines without 
any examination.” Also emphasized was the fact that FDA 
has no jurisdiction over shipments that do not cross state 
lines. 

After Americans had been consuming chickens treated 
with stilbestrol implants for 12 years, the FDA announced 
on December 11, 1959, a voluntary plan whereby they no 
longer would be marketed. FDA conceded that residues 
of stilbestrol were found in the skin, liver and kidneys of 




TEST-TUBE MEAT 


123 


treated birds. Overnight it had become so dangerous to 
eat this meat that all treated birds were taken off the mar¬ 
ket at once at government expense—which is to say the 
taxpayer’s expense—at a cost of $10 million. But the 
government noted that the action would not stop the use 
of stilbestrol in beef cattle, sheep and lamb. 

Less dramatic but probably even more dangerous is the 
amount of estrogen activity that remains in treated meat 
when it goes to market. The FDA has admitted that steers 
fed 10 milligrams of stilbestrol per day produced meat that 
contained 0.6 parts per billion estrogenic activity when 
ready for market, but it characterized this amount as “of 
no significance.” Other tests have been said to show stil¬ 
bestrol present only in negligible amounts or just barely 
detectable by phenomenally sensitive testing methods. 
Other researchers, however, have pointed out that when 
the meat was fed to animals there was a definite estrogenic 
effect. 

Since 1967, at least, there has been agitation to increase 
the stilbestrol dose in cattle feed from 10 milligrams daily 
to three times that amount (along with the permitted use 
of implants). It was said by researchers (Doanes, Oct., 
1967) that the cattle made greater weight gains. Nothing 
was said about the people who eat the meat. 

Stilbestrol contamination of meat has become so wide¬ 
spread that Dr. Clive McCay at Cornell, who was in charge 
of nutritional research for the Navy during World War II, 
reported that “rodents used in research, such as cancerous 
strains of mice, must now be fed with special diets to 
avoid reproductive failure due to stilbestrol.” He continued: 

“Special mixtures for such mice are now being marketed 
and these contain no meat scrap, because this product 
(meat) is the carrier of . . . stilbestrol. No one is certain 
how this stilbestrol gets into the meat meals, but it is there 
and has been during the past several years when steers 
have been fed stilbestrol.” 

In several instances the feed of small animals was con¬ 
taminated by mixing* machines that had been used to pre¬ 
pare stilbestrol pellets. In one case, guinea pigs got a heavy 
jolt that way and stopped reproducing, showing uterine 
discharges and other maladies. 

Since the presence of stilbestrol in meat no longer can 
be denied, emphasis has shifted to the insistence that the 
small amounts present are safe. 



124 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


Four eminent physicians, led by Dr. William E. Smith, 
the other three being Drs. Granville F. Knight, W. Coda 
Martin and Rigoberto Iglesias, presented their conclusions 
about the effects of the so-called small amounts of stil- 
bestrol at a public symposium on medicated feeds in 
Washington in 1956. Only after trying repeatedly to dis¬ 
courage the four doctors from participating did Govern¬ 
ment officials reluctantly give them a place on the pro¬ 
gram. The effect was sensational. 

The Police Gazette, never known for its subtlety, gave 
a colorful account of the background of the forum: 

“. . . despite the fact that top cancer experts have pub¬ 
licly warned that this hormone-producing chemical (stil- 
bestrol) may be dangerous to humans, the U. S. Food and 
Drug Administration for some mysterious reason has 
turned a deaf ear to these grim warnings. 

“Not only have FDA officials refused to take definite 
action, but they cooperated with the chemical industry in 
a recent public symposium which, in effect, whitewashed 
the users of medicated feeds. 

“Here was a strange and terrifying situation. 

“But before the symposium ended, the helpless con¬ 
sumer had the satisfaction of seeing the whitewash boom¬ 
erang, leaving the FDA with a hot potato. . . . 

“The symposium was dominated by chemical industry 
representatives and, furthermore,” the Police Gazette re¬ 
ported, “the publicity for this so-called Government-spon¬ 
sored meeting was handled by a New York public rela¬ 
tions firm employed by a large chemical manufacturer. 

“All the speakers listed on the program were in accord 
with FDA policies concerning the dangerous medicated 
feeds. 

“For two days these U. S. officials and the chemical 
representatives had a lovefeast, extolling the ‘benefits’ of 
hormones as a means of stimulating weight gain for food 
animals. 

“Then, on the third day of sweetness-and-light the at¬ 
mosphere was rudely shattered by a report that rocked the 
symposium and sent the chemical boys into frustrated 
confusion. . . .” 

The Smith group set the session—which began with a 
personal “Best wishes” message from President Eisenhower 
—on its ear by asserting that “in the case of market poul¬ 
try found to contain up to 24 milligrams of diethylstilbes- 




TEST-TUBE MEAT 


125 


trol per bird, one is dealing with an amount roughly equiv¬ 
alent to 342,000 times the daily dose necessary to produce 
cancer in mice” Twenty-four milligrams was the amount 
of stilbestrol found in the neck of one of the chickens 
seized by FDA inspectors in the New York market. 

Before reaching this climax, the reluctantly invited phy¬ 
sicians had cited some other figures not calculated to calm 
the nerves of their hosts. Their report, citing experiments 
by the National Cancer Institute, pointed out that breast 
cancers can be induced in mice by as little as 0.07 micro- 
grams (seven thousandths of one milligram) of stilbestrol 
per day. 

They concluded that “the cancer-producing dose of this 
drug approaches the infinitesimal. Claims that no appre¬ 
ciable quantities of it can be demonstrated in tissues of 
cattle to which it has been fed must therefore be carefully 
scrutinized as to the sensitivity and accuracy of the test 
methods.” 

They added that meat from a steer given the prescribed 
ten milligrams of stilbestrol had shown about fourteen 
times the amount of stilbestrol needed as a daily dose to 
produce cancer in mice. 

Furthermore, the physicians continued, claims for the 
absence of stilbestrol in tissues were based on a method 
that had a limited sensitivity. The Smith group said “this 
means that a pound of meat, certified as free of diethylstil- 
bestrol, could contain nearly 14 times the amount of this 
drug necessary to induce cancer by a daily dose to mice.” 

It was at this point that the doctors hurled their bomb¬ 
shell about the market poultry found to contain up to 
twenty-four milligrams of stilbestrol per bird. 

The report added that “intermittent administration of 
very large doses of estrogens is far less effective in induc¬ 
ing tumors than is a continuing exposure to extremely 
minute doses. It is a continuing exposure to extremely 
minute doses that is to be feared from the introduction of 
estrogens into the food supply ” [Emphasis the author’s.] 

Tumors have resulted in guinea pigs exposed to as little 
as eight micrograms (eight thousandths of one milligram) 
of stilbestrol per day, it was noted, and a pellet removed 
from a guinea pig one year after implantation still retained 
enough power to induce a tumor when rcimplantcd in 
another animal. 

The report further emphasized that a prime considcra- 


126 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


tion is the long period of time that elapses between the 
first exposure to a carcinogen, such as stilbestrol, and the 
eventual appearance of a tumor: “In animal experiments, 
exposure is customarily begun early in life and the major¬ 
ity of tumors arise when the animals are old. Experience 
in the results of administration of estrogens to human 
beings has been largely limited to treatment of conditions 
arising fairly late in life. 

“By comparison, the majority of human beings thus far 
exposed would complete their life span before passage of 
sufficient time to observe a carcinogenic effect of estrogens. 
The introduction of estrogens into the food supply, how¬ 
ever, presents the problem of exposure of human beings 
from birth onward... .” 

The National Cancer Institute reported that in the ab¬ 
sence of long-term studies of the effect of stilbestrol-treat- 
ed meat on human beings, the inferences drawn from 
many animal studies “well-documented by Dr. Smith’s 
group, bring us as close to the clinical facts as we can come 
today.” A member of the Institute stated: “It is my con¬ 
sidered opinion that our food control authorities have not 
viewed these hazards in realistic or objective terms.” 

What has been the response to these various warnings? 
Researchers have been experimenting with giving even 
larger jolts of stilbestrol to meat anim als. Prospects are 
that beef cattle will be given at least twice as much stil¬ 
bestrol as they are getting now—unless the Government 
cracks down and uses the power given it under the new 
amendment to the food law. 


( 2 ) 

Instead of trying to curb the use of chemicals in meat 
animals, the government has permitted their use to bur¬ 
geon. In addition to stilbestrol, cattle and many other 
meat animals are getting tranquilizers; cattle often get 
especially heavy doses just before being shipped to market 

High-level shots of antibiotics also are given to cattle for 
“shipping fever.” Farm Journal quoted an experimenter 
as saying that the drugs when given to cattle heading for 
market, “surely took all the snort out of them.” 

A scientific symposium held in 1967 estimated that 
more than 2.7 million pounds of antibiotic food supple¬ 
ments are used annually in the U. S. (New York Times). 
Several speakers at the symposium warned that the wide- 



TEST-TUBE MEAT 


127 


spread use has led to increased resistance to the drugs. 
Many doctors have pointed out that this could have serious 
consequences for patients treated with antibiotics in severe 
illnesses. 

In 1968 FDA began to tighten restrictions on the use 
of antibiotics in treating animals after federal investigators 
found residues in meat, milk and eggs long after the drugs 
were used, according to Farm Journal. For a long time 
it had been contended that these residues quickly disap¬ 
peared. Farm Journal quoted an FDA scientist as having 
said, “These residues are a potential hazard to your health 
and mine.” 

The scientist said, “Many of us are sensitive to peni¬ 
cillin and streptomycin, for example. If we eat foods that 
carry residues of these drugs, we may get a serious re¬ 
action. And even if we are not now sensitive, we may 
develop a sensitivity by continued exposures to residues 
in our food. Then, if our doctor used one of these anti¬ 
biotics in treating an illness, we might well have a severe 
reaction.” 

The Journal noted that health officials were even more 
concerned about the resistance that bacteria develop 
through continuous exposure to antibiotics. “We are very 
much concerned about recent discoveries that this resist¬ 
ance can be transferred from one species of bacteria to 
another,” an FDA spokesman was quoted as having said. 
“Organisms have developed resistance that can be transfer¬ 
red from one species of bacteria to another.” 

The magazine added that “low levels of antibiotics in 
(animal) feed will probably not be affected, according to 
present FDA plans.” 

Antibiotics are given to dairy and beef cattle, poultry, 
lambs and swine; they are used to help put on cheap 
weight, boost production, treat disease, prevent disease, 
and as a preservative; they are used on fruits and vege¬ 
tables to prevent blight and bacterial disease, and as 
“medicine” for sick food plants. At the same time, studies 
are being made with an eye toward using them as preserva¬ 
tives in vegetables, beef, ham and other perishables. 

The word antibiotic means “against life.” These com¬ 
pounds are chemical substances made from microorgan¬ 
isms and they have an antagonistic effect on other micro¬ 
organisms. The majority are said to be effective chiefly 
because they inhibit the growth of microbes, although 



128 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


many actually destroy microbial cells. Their exact method 
of action is not known. 

As usual, it is claimed that only negligible, insignificant 
or undemonstrable amounts of antibiotics appear in foods. 
The FDA’s Jack Curtis said the feeding of low levels of 
antibiotics to meat animals has not resulted in the deposi¬ 
tion of “any appreciable residues” of antibiotics in the 
tissues of treated animals. The Journal of the American 
Medical Association assured its readers that when fowl 
was preserved in an antibiotic dip, cooking destroyed 
“more than 99 per cent” of the drug. Stated another way, 
it might be said that even after cooking some residue 
remains. 

The FDA said it would not permit the use of antibiotic 
dips now widely used for poultry until it was shown that 
the antibiotic residue was. destroyed in cooking—which 
included frying. In the spring of 1959, the Government 
authorized the use of antibiotics to preserve fresh-caught 
fish. Antibiotics have been used to embalm poultry since 
1955. The British have refused to permit the use of 
antibiotics to preserve fish because, among other rea¬ 
sons, “frying leaves minute traces,” according to the highly 
respected British medical journal Lancet. Let us hope that 
frying fish and chicken in America destroys more anti¬ 
biotic residue than frying fish in Great Britain. 

It is known that antibiotic residue has appeared in 5 to 
12 per cent of all milk samples tested by the FDA. The 
drug gets into milk from massive shots of antibiotics given 
to cattle suffering from mastitis, an udder infection; more 
than 75 tons of antibiotics—primarily penicillin—are said 
to be used annually for this ailment alone. 

Farmers are not supposed to market milk from treated 
cows until seventy-two hours after the dose is applied, but 
the large number of violations shows the frequency with 
which the order is disregarded. From 1955 to 1956, ac¬ 
cording to samples tested, the number of violations showed 
an encouraging drop, but the average concentration of 
penicillin in the milk more than doubled; the highest con¬ 
centration of penicillin in an individual milk sample in the 
1956 tests was more than seven times that in the previous 
year’s test results. 

The large number of violations emphasizes how precari¬ 
ous the public’s margin of safety is when a dangerous drug 
is placed in the hands of laymen who have no idea of its 



TEST-TUBE MEAT 


129 


power and who are expected to exercise their sense of 
responsibility at the risk of losing money. 

Despite the frequency with which FDA regulations are 
violated, the agency placed another dangerous economic 
tool in the hands of farmers by permitting use of the anti¬ 
biotic aureomycin in the daily feed ration of milk cattle. 
Farm Journal stated that in order to get FDA clearance for 
the drug, a chemical company “showed by field trials that 
none of the antibiotic was detected in the milk when fed 
at the recommended level. [Their emphasis.] But if you 
feed enough more than is recommended, it can show up 
in the milk.” [Author’s emphasis.] 

In many cases the amount of antibiotic residue in milk 
has been large enough to interfere with cheese-making 
because, ns the FDA explained, the bacteria that produce 
cheese were knocked out by the penicillin. 

The FDA has conceded that the “small amounts” of 
antibiotics appearing in milk “could conceivably” cause a 
reaction in a sensitive individual. The large number of per¬ 
sons who suffer from various allergies and possibly would 
react to small amounts of antibiotics makes this a threat 
not to be taken lightly. 

The Journal of the American Medical Association has 
recognized the threat from small amounts of antibiotics ap¬ 
pearing regularly in the milk; it states that while antibiotics 
combat the development of bacteria, “It is not so generally 
appreciated that their medical usage is attended by distinct 
hazard of sensitization. ... To the individual who is or 
has become sensitized, administration of an antibiotic may 
cause serious illness or even death. 

“A method of developing sensitization is by administer¬ 
ing the agent in small repeated dosage, in a manner paral¬ 
leling that of repeatedly ingesting food preserved with an 
antibiotic. [Emphasis the author’s.] The use of antibiotics 
as food production adjuvants in such ways that they actual¬ 
ly are consumed is therefore manifestly contrary to the 
public interest, and the Food and Drug Administration has 
formally so declared.” 

Almost ten years ago the FDA reported that serious re¬ 
actions to antibiotics were increasing. A nationwide sur¬ 
vey of nearly 3,000 histories of such cases was said to in¬ 
dicate that about one third were so serious as to threaten 
the life of the patient. 

Effects of the indiscriminate use of antibiotics arc further 


130 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


dramatized by the number of deaths due to the virulent 
“staph” (staphylococcus) germ, which has become resist¬ 
ant to antibiotics. The Public Health Service has called 
the staph menace a national problem. Many deaths have 
been attributed to it. One way doctors were advised to 
fight staph germs was by not giving antibiotics haphazardly 
and never in small “preventive” doses which are believed 
to encourage the development of resistant strains of germs. 

Doctors have warned against the promiscuous use of 
antibiotics both in medicine and agriculture, pointing out 
that when they are needed in an emergency as a heroic 
measure, the patient who previously has had repeated 
small doses may not respond—or may have an adverse 
reaction, or even die. 

Many doctors are convinced that the steady ingestion of 
antibiotics in foods, regardless of how small the dose, 
might be having adverse effects on natural processes of the 
body in addition to causing sensitization. One doctor refers 
to these drugs as “vitamin antagonists.” Dr. Hartman 
pointed out that aureomycin—the antibiotic primarily used 
in animal feed—destroys bacteria in the intestinal tract, 
“and as a matter of fact, we depend on bacteria in the in¬ 
testinal tract to make vitamins for us.” Again, it is only 
logical to ask what effect antibiotics in feed are having on 
the health of animals and, consequently, on the human 
beings who eat their meat. 

Lancet noted that there is little information about the 
effects on man of small and intermediate doses of anti¬ 
biotics. 

The questions posed by the use of these relative strang¬ 
ers to the food supply go unanswered, as far as their effects 
on humans are concerned, but there are up-to-the-minute 
statistics on animal weight gains and increased profits from 
use of antibiotics. 

Another chemical treatment for cattle is a grub killer. 
The compound is applied internally to kill the parasites 
before they work their way from the anim als’ intestines 
through their hides. Directions state the product should 
not be used on producing dairy cows or beef animals with¬ 
in 60 days of slaughter. It is to be hoped that cattlemen 
who use the stuff follow directions more conscientiously 
than many farmers who apply stilbestrol, pesticides, anti¬ 
biotics and other powerful chemicals with disregard to 
minimum safeguards. 


TEST-TUBE MEAT 


131 


One of the rare setbacks chemicals suffered was the dis¬ 
closure in Farm Journal that a Department of Agriculture 
entomologist announced that the USDA “was withdrawing 
methoxychlor (a chlorinated hydrocarbon) from its list of 
chemicals recommended for use directly on dairy cows. He 
said that USDA would continue to recommend it for use 
inside the bam as a residual spray." [Emphasis theirs.] 

The canny Farm Journal continued: “But the catch is 
this: The decision not to recommend methoxychlor’s use 
on dairy cattle doesn’t forbid its use [emphasis theirs]. 
Registered manufacturers haven’t been asked to change 
their labels.” 

In the march of chemical progress down on the farm, 
chickens have not been neglected. Antibiotics in chicken 
feed are said to have stepped up egg production in low- 
producing hens from 26 to 57 per cent, and antibiotic dips 
have increased the shelf life of poultry from the normal 
seven days up to twenty-one days. Other supercharged 
chemicals also are pumped into poultry feed; some pack¬ 
ages of the stuff now carry warnings that the birds should 
no be killed for food until two weeks after the treated 
rations are withdrawn—something else for the harassed 
agrarian-chemist to remember. 

Among the ingredients in some chicken feeds is arsenic, 
a known cause of cancer in man. “Fortunately,” said Dr. 
McCay, “the producers of arsenicals for poultry made a 
careful study of chicken livers and if one reads the litera¬ 
ture he knows how much arsenic he is getting in his giblet 
gravy. In many cases this is not done and one has no way 
of knowing the amounts ingested. 

“A few years ago when dogs were poisoned and paralyzed 
by residues of a compound . . . which was carried over in 
the mixer from poultry to dog feeds, no one could tell us 
how much of this toxic agent was stored in the livers of 
chickens and turkeys. Perhaps one should not worry, since 
the turnover in the use of these toxic compounds is so 
rapid that one would learn about one, such as arsenic, 
when his knowledge would be obsolete, because a new 
compound . . . would have entered the picture.” 

The FDA reported that “an ingredient” in poultry feed 
was the “probable cause of outbreaks of a mysterious 
poultry disease estimated to have taken the lives of several 
million birds between October 1957 and February 1958.” 

FDA attributed the disease to “the use of certain fatty 


132 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


materials in the poultry feed . . . The fatty materials were 
compounded in part from a black, tarry residue left from 
fat-processing operations.” The cause of death was known 
among poultrymen as “water-belly”—an accumulation of 
fluid in the heart sac and the abdominal cavity. Symptoms 
appeared after the birds had been on the feed two weeks or 
more. 

The Government, noting that a survey was being made 
to determine whether similar fatty materials were being 
offered to feed manufacturers, said the poultry losses that 
occurred could have been avoided had the tarry residue 
been tested adequately before it was used as an ingredient 
of feed. 

Who can say how many birds that died of the ailment— 
or were suffering from it when they were killed—wound 
up as somebody’s Sunday dinner? Although the FDA 
pointed out that the poultry losses could have been avoid¬ 
ed, they failed to state what might have happened to the 
people who unwittingly ate the diseased flesh from the 
birds. It also is pertinent to wonder if the preservative 
process of the antibiotic dip masked the diseased condition 
of some of the flesh. (Antibiotics are used in some pre¬ 
servative processes to stop the spread of disease that may 
still be present after death.) 

Also pertinent is an item that appeared in Farm Journal 
in October 1957, stating that “Leucosis—a cancerlike dis¬ 
ease that’s rated as the No. 1 killer of adult poultry—now 
is showing up in younger stock.” [Emphasis theirs.] 

Pointing out that researchers had found “serious infesta¬ 
tions” in birds from eight to twelve weeks old, the article 
continued: “The trouble is that there’s no solution for the 
disease. USDA research scientists in Michigan are work¬ 
ing with a vaccine that looks hopeful for one type of the 
cancer that hits chickens, but there’s no commercial prod¬ 
uct on the market yet.” 

Farm Journal added its own postscript with this conclud¬ 
ing paragraph: “Strangely, the disease didn’t come to 
growers’ attention by killing birds. Federal and State in¬ 
spectors in processing plants were the first to notice it— 
they were condemning more birds because of abnormal 
organs.” 

This disclosure raises more vital questions that urgently 
need answering: Is there a parallel between the rising inci¬ 
dence of “cancerlike” diseases in young chickens fed toxic 




TEST-TUBE MEAT 


133 


substances and children who are being raised on poisoned 
foods today? Also, how many chickens in early stages of 
disease are being marketed and eaten? With FDA’s limited 
staff, would it be possible for even the most conscientious 
and diligent inspector to examine every bird that goes to 
market? 

And so it goes, down on the farm. 

What happens on the consumer level was suggested by 
an interview US News & World Report had with FDA 
Commissioner George P. Larrick. Mr. Larrick outlines the 
problem so well that he deserves to be quoted verbatum: 

Q. Is there a lot of diseased poultry on the market? 

A. Yes, that is true. 

Q. How can the individual protect himself? 

A. The first thing the individual can do would be to get 
behind the bill that is being considered in Congress to re¬ 
quire inspection of poultry. . . . The second solution is for 
the prudent housewife to look at the bird. If it’s skinny, 
has any sores on it, if the giblets or any of the organs ap¬ 
pear to be abnormal, she should reject it. 

Q. You never see the bird any more; all you see is a 
few little pieces of meat wrapped in cellophane— 

A. Yes—that’s the problem. The housewife used to be 
able to watch her own sanitation for herself. Now she’s 
got to hire an inspector to do it for her. . . . 

Q. Would you guess what percentage of the poultry that 
is bought in stores is diseased? 

A. Probably a very small percentage but significant. 

Q. Does the fact that a chicken is diseased make it dan¬ 
gerous to the human being? 

A. Most diseased poultry is handled so that it will not be 
dangerous. There is a disease of poultry in this country 
called ornithosis. You may recall that parrots and para¬ 
keets had a disease some time ago that was transmissible 
to man. Well, that same disease—or a form of it—is being 
found now in chickens, turkeys and ducks. And there 
have been some very serious outbreaks of the disease in 
the workers in the processing plants. We have never found 
a case of it transmitted to the consumer of the poultry or 
the woman who handled it in the kitchen. But there have 
been some very serious outbreaks in poultry plants, and 
particularly in turkey-processing establishments. 

Q. Is this what is called “parrot fever”? 



134 THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 

A. Well, it is the same as parrot fever, but it is also 
called ornithosis or psittacosis. 

Q. What does it do to you? 

A. Symptoms are similar to those of a severe upper- 
respiratory ailment. It’s amenable to treatment with some 
of the antibiotics. Untreated, it may cause death. 

Mr. Larrick did not speculate on any possible relation¬ 
ship between the amount of sick poultry turning up and 
the increasing use of chemicals in their feeds, nor did he 
offer any other explanation for this phenomenon. But he 
did repeatedly emphasize the need for a law that would 
require the inspection of poultry after it went to market. 

The entire emphasis down on the farm is turning out 
quantity as cheaply as possible. Quality and nutritive 
values are virtually never mentioned. The aim is do it 
cheap, do it fast, make it big. Dr. Jonathan Forman, the 
former editor of the Ohio State Medical Journal, observed 
that we are putting “emphasis on tonnage and bushels, 
giving our domestic animals fattening feed instead of food 
that would have made them strong, muscular and healthy, 
and presumably of higher nutritive value when their flesh 
is eaten by man. 

“This is not all presumption, for we do know that the 
vitamin-B content of the muscles of a pig can be in¬ 
fluenced by the food he gets. We know, too, that the typi¬ 
cal pig ready for market is a sick animal—the victim of 
obesity—who would die long before his time if we did not 
rush him to market for the city people to eat.” 

(3) 

After meat has undergone its harrowing exposures to 
chemicals on the farm, it frequently is subjected to still 
further chemical treatment in processing or adulteration 
before reaching the consumer. 

To list each formidable-sounding chemical used in cur¬ 
ing and preserving cold meats would serve little purpose, 
unless the reader were a chemist; virtually all are poisons, 
and they are permitted in small amounts on the usual 
theory that this is safe procedure. Worthy of mention, 
however, are a few of the more commonly used com¬ 
pounds, especially those ingested frequently by children. 
In this category are sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite, 




TEST-TUBE MEAT 


135 


widely used in lunch meats; the nitrates are used exten¬ 
sively in frankfurters. 

John Cullen, former Canadian food-inspection official, 
said: “These chemicals, which of themselves have no color, 
serve to fix and hold, and accentuate, the natural color of 
the meat. This leads the buyer to believe that the product 
is of better quality than it actually is, and in this way he 
is deceived.” He said their addition to meat is “highly ob¬ 
jectionable not only on account of the deception, but on 
account of its being injurious to health.”* 

Many cases of poisoning from these substances, when 
used in larger amounts than legally permitted, are on 
record. Several cases of severe illness occurred in New 
Orleans several years ago when wieners that were supposed 
to contain no more than 200 ppm nitrites were found to 
have up to 6,750. A preparation used in corning beef and 
freshening hamburgers contains 8 per cent nitrites, 4 per 
cent nitrates and glucose; 3 cc. of this extract fed to adult 
male rats by stomach tube reportedly caused their death in 
thirty-five minutes from blood disorders; when the extract 
mistakenly was substituted for maple sirup on a dining 
car, several people became seriously ill. 

Nitrates and saltpeter have been added to the beverages 
of boarding-school students in the belief they would inhibit 
sex interest. Saltpeter can cause gastric distress, nausea, 
vomiting and excessive urine discharges. 

Boric acid, according to testimony of Dr. Lehman of the 
FDA, “is dusted on hams during the curing process to keep 
off what they call skippers, a fly infestation. It has been 
used also as a preservative in waxy covering for certain 
fruits and vegetables.” He added that the FDA considers 
boric acid as “poisonous per se” and that it should not be 
used in food products. 

Prevention Magazine reported that it wrote to the USDA 
to find out what synthetic sausage casings are made of. 
USDA was quoted as saying one brand of casings was 
made of synthetic resins, “modified by the addition of a 
small amount of harmless chemicals.” Another brand was 
said to be made of “regenerated cellulose” consisting of 
“wood pulp and cotton linters, and plasticized by treat¬ 
ment with alkali.” Materials of a third casing. Prevention 
wrote, “(you won’t believe this we’re sure, but it’s there in 

•“Don’t Eat That ... It May Be Poison!” published by 
Pure Food Guild, 1952 . 


136 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


black and white) are made of ‘synthetic rubber modified 
by the addition of a small amount of harmless chemicals.’ ” 

Prevention, stating that these revelations made its hair 
rise in horror, conceded that the casings are peeled off and 
not eaten; “But the meat has been packed in them for 
weeks (or perhaps months) before we buy it. How much 
of the synthetic rubber, resin, cellulose and ‘harmless 
chemicals’ have been absorbed by that meat before we 
make it into a sandwich?” 

Sausage long has been celebrated as one of the myster¬ 
ies of life. The Economist, a British publication, recently 
carried a dispatch from its Bonn correspondent, who dis¬ 
cussed this exotic foodstuff from his homeland.” It has 
always been fairly easy,” he said, “in the very nature of 
the business [sausage business], to conceal from the or¬ 
dinary buyer exactly what a sausage is made of. The trou¬ 
ble now is that the wider use of chemicals for preserving 
and coloring, along with the improvement of cutting and 
blending machines have made adulteration even less 
discernible....” 

What holds good for sausage in Bonn also holds good 
here. Sausage generally is made of inferior grades of 
meat; its casing is suspect as a carcinogen and frequently 
contains coal-tar dyes; the meat itself is preserved with 
powerful chemicals. In some cases, where not protected 
by Federal meat laws, it may be adulterated with illegal 
preservatives. But sausage is only one of many meat prod¬ 
ucts that give the food adulterer an opportunity to prac¬ 
tice his black art at the expense of the public. 

Probably the most infamous of the surreptitious chem¬ 
icals he uses is the powerful sodium sulphite. By Federal 
standards this chemical is illegal in meat but appears in 
certain other foodstuffs—which also holds true of the pre¬ 
servative sodium benzoate. “If the meat is of an unusually 
bright red color,” says Mr. Cullen, “it is reasonable to as¬ 
sume that it has been doped and doctored with sulphurous 
acid or sodium sulphite. This is especially true in the case 
of hamburger that has been made from stale meat trim¬ 
mings. pork kidneys, pigs’ hearts, sheep hearts and other 
meat by-products including large quantities of fat.” 

He says it is a “great favorite with butchers and manu¬ 
facturers of meat products generally . . . This preservative 
is very dangerous to health, especially when used in meat, 
because it will not only restore the color of putrid and 



TEST-TUBE MEAT 


137 


almost black meat, but also because it will destroy the 
strong odor of putrefaction. 

“Many butchers will contend that they use this prepara¬ 
tion only because it arrests the spread of bacteria. Noth¬ 
ing, however, is further from the truth. Changes of the 
most dangerous character are continuously taking place 
in the meat, but the sodium sulphite obscures them and 
makes the meat appear to be fresh and of better value 
than it really is, and enables the seller to perpetrate an 
unscrupulous and deliberate fraud.” 

What does this have to do with meat in the United 
States? Over the years many butchers in this country have 
been caught using sodium sulphite in retail stores. A few 
years ago the state food commissioner of Connecticut 
warned market owners there that “continuation of the fast¬ 
growing practice of adding sulphite to hamburger to con¬ 
ceal decomposition would lead to court prosecution . . .” 

Another state official, warning about violations, said sul¬ 
phites do not inhibit the growth of organisms which pro¬ 
duce poisons that cause food poisoning; consequently meats 
treated with the substances may look and smell all right, 
and, at the same time, contain toxic substances and be 
undergoing putrefaction. 

The chemical doctoring of meat continues virtually until 
the consumer’s teeth bite into it and end the opportunity 
for further treatment. One manufacturer offers a product 
that “imparts a charcoal flavor to the meat, especially valu¬ 
able for institutional sales,” Consumers’ Research notes. 
‘This additive will tenderize low-grade meat cuts, which 
are simply dipped in the magic liquid for about 45 seconds.” 

Another company offers a new liquid tenderizer for meat 
cuts intended for freezing, with the idea of “turning lower- 
price cuts into new profits.” The supplier of “steaks” of 
this type claims they “never, never taste tenderized,” that 
his product “transforms low-cost beef into mouth-watering 
steaks” which “eat like high-priced steaks, but can be 
served at just a fraction of the cost. . . . Join the ranks of 
profit-minded food executives.” 

In days past a man sat down to enjoy his Sunday dinner 
with little more to think about than whether the roast or 
chicken was properly done and seasoned to his taste. Now 
he must concern himself with calculated risks, human fail¬ 
ure and some stranger’s sense of responsibility—or lack of 
it—set against his desire for the highest possible profit. 


8 

Emulsifiers— 
Whose Laboratory, 
Which Tests? 


Few chemical additives outrank the so-called emulsi¬ 
fiers as a bonanza to the food processor—and few are 
more suspect of causing damage to humans than some of 
these widely used compounds. 

Emulsifiers have many uses in foods: they promote 
smoothness and keep incompatible ingredients like oil and 
water from separating; they may also be used to give stale 
baked goods a deceptive appearance of freshness; and they 
act-as substitutes for more costly and nutritious natural 
ingredients such as eggs, milk, butter and vegetable 
shortening. 

Some emulsifiers, in only moderate doses, have been 
shown to be extremely poisonous to animals; others have 
not been adequately tested. 

Yet tens of millions of pounds of emulsifiers are used an¬ 
nually in foods. These compounds have a variety of 
names: softeners, surface-active agents, wetting agents; 
some are very close chemically to detergents used in laun¬ 
dering and cleaning. 

Two main categories of emulsifiers are used in foods. 
To the chemist the first is composed of mono- and diglyc¬ 
erides, the second of polyoxyethylene monostearate and 
related compounds. More familiarly, they are known as the 
glycerides and poly compounds. The former are artificial 
fats derived from glycerides; the latter are derived in part 
from ethylene oxide, which has been aptly described as 
“a stranger in the food world.” 

In 1937 it was found that when small amounts of the 


138 




EMULSIFIERS—'WHOSE LABORATORY. WHICH TESTS? 139 

glyceride compounds were mixed with shortening and in¬ 
corporated into baked goods their use resulted in ‘'more 
tender” bread, buns, cake and other sweet goods. There¬ 
after, shortenings containing these products were marketed. 
Subsequently it was found that by increasing the ratio of 
glycerides in shortening, a very soft loaf of bread could 
be produced. This led to their being called “bread 
softeners.” 

In 1947 the polyoxyethylene monostearate type of bread 
softener appeared on the market to compete with the 
glyceride compounds in baked goods, ice cream and other 
foods. Their biggest manufacturer was a chemical company 
that produced explosives. 

After people had consumed millions of pounds of these 
new softeners, evidence built up that they were not safe for 
use in food. Gradually they were outlawed for use in most 
breads, salad dressings, mayonnaise and, more recently, 
ice cream—foods for which standards (establishing in¬ 
gredients and amounts that can be used) are fixed by Con¬ 
gress. They also were banned from use in meat products 
under the Federal Meat Inspection Act. 

Following the bread hearings in 1952, Charles W. Craw¬ 
ford, then FDA Commissioner, was quoted in The New 
York Times as having said the polyoxyethylene mono- 
stearates would make “good paint removers.” 

At the time of the Delaney Committee hearings it was 
estimated that Americans were eating ten million pounds 
of the poly materials annually. A committee member said 
this represented ten million pounds of chemicals that were 
being used in place of the fats and oils that contain vital 
food nutrients. 

Although the poly compounds have been eliminated from 
a few food products, they are still widely used in prepared 
cake mixes, cakes, hard candies, various chocolate con¬ 
fections, soft drinks, dill pickles, multivitamin drops, pea¬ 
nut butter, pressure-dispensed whipped cream, whole milk 
with vitamin D dispersed in it, sweet rolls, doughnuts and 
other products. 

It should be borne in mind that unless barred by spe¬ 
cific state law, they can be used anywhere, in any product 
as long as they do not cross state lines. It also is worthy 
of note that labels generally state only “emulsifier added,” 
so the consumer has no way of knowing which type is 
used—or the amount. 


140 


THE POISONS IN YOUB FOOD 


In various legal actions the manufacturers of the poly 
compounds have tried to get their product back in use in 
bread. So far the courts have ruled against them. 

Various hearings and legal skirmishes have given con¬ 
siderable publicity to tests conducted on the poly com¬ 
pounds. These tests suggest how thin the public’s margin 
of safety often is when human health, life and death de¬ 
pend on animal experiments. The tests also dramatize and 
illuminate some of the fancy scientific footwork that can 
take place in the usually dark corridors of food-chemical 
testing procedures. 

In testing for the toxicity of chemicals, standard pro¬ 
cedure calls for feeding large amounts of the substance in 
question to animals to determine the type of injury to look 
for when smaller amounts are fed in chronic-toxicity 
studies. 

Claims that the poly compounds are harmless are based 
primarily on experiments carried out by Dr. John C. 
Krantz, Jr., professor of pharmacology at the University 
of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Krantz testified 
before the Delaney Committee that he was hired by a 
manufacturer of the poly emulsifiers to conduct toxicity 
tests on the products. 

He said his experiments covered ten years and included 
studies with nearly 3,000 animals—monkeys, rats, dogs, 
rabbits, mice and that “an occasional study was made in 
man.” As a result of these impressive experiments, he 
testified, “A great amount of data is available to show that 
prolonged feeding of these compounds at relatively high 
levels is not harmful.” 

However, other tests conducted elsewhere did not pro¬ 
duce such optimistic results. Some of these tests were car¬ 
ried on by Swift & Company, which produces mono- and 
diglycerides. Swift’s motive in conducting the tests was 
questioned but not explained. Would it be cynical to sug¬ 
gest that the poly products were cutting into Swift’s sale 
of glyceride compounds? 

Dr. Edward Eagle, a physiologist and toxicologist with 
Swift, testified before the Delaney Committee that he per¬ 
formed experiments with several of the poly compounds. 
The injuries they brought about were horrendous, covering 
almost every part of the animals’ anatomy. They ranged 
from retarded growth to premature death; one group of 




EMULSIFIERS—WHOSE LABORATORY. WHICH TESTS? 141 

weanling hamsters fed 15 to 25 per cent of one of the 
compounds was said to have died within two weeks. 

Dr. Eagle presented photographs of “six very large 
stones” taken from the urinary bladders of hamsters. He 
said the stones were larger than the normal bladders of 
the animals. In other words, he explained, “the bladder 
had to be stretched at this time tight as a drum to accom¬ 
modate it . . Other random injuries listed included 
kidney stones, blood in the feces, hemorrhage from the 
genitourinary tract, liver damage, thickened bladder walls, 
extensive diarrhea, atrophied testes, etc. 

How to reconcile the incredible difference between the 
findings of Dr. Eagle and Dr. Rrantz, both highly qualified 
scientists? The Delaney Committee began to ask questions, 
among them, how much of the poly chemicals had each 
experimenter fed his animals? 

Dr. Eagle said he fed the materials in amounts up to 25 
per cent of their diet. He said that might sound like a lot, 
but the FDA was on record as having said that any sub¬ 
stance proposed for use in food should be tested at a level 
of one hundred times the amount proposed for use in 
food. 

“Now these materials are proposed [for use] at levels 
of 1 per cent,” said Dr. Eagle, “and 100 times 1 per cent 
is 100 per cent, which reduces it to an absurdity. So, if 
on the basis of that 25 per cent, even 25 per cent is not 
an extremely high level.” 

Furthermore, he continued, “the FDA states . . . that in 
order to prove the nontoxicity of any substance, it has to 
be fed to animals at a level of 5 per cent with no harmful 
effects. These materials cannot be fed to animals at 5 
per cent with no harmful effects.” 

Dr. Eagle said there were no toxicological data on man 
for the poly compounds, “but it has always been felt . . . 
that the most sensitive animal is man. If you can cause 
harm to any animal with anything, that material is not 
good for man . . . any material which is toxic to a rat or 
a hamster or a rabbit is unsafe for man.” 

And what did Dr. Krantz have to say about this? He 
testified that he had fed his animals the poly materials in 
amounts ranging from 2 to 5 per cent of their diets. Why 
such modest amounts? Well, he said, he tried to estimate 
how much of these products a man actually would cat in 
his diet and then he took from twenty-five to one hundred 


142 


THE POISONS IN YOUB FOOD 


times the largest amount. He said he also varied the 
amount of the particular compound tested according to 
how much of that particular product would be ingested; 
the more toxic the product, the less would be eaten, he 
concluded, and thus the less he fed the test animals. 

It also turned out there was a difference in the animals 
used in the two tests. Dr. Eagle got some of his most 
striking results by using hamsters. Hamsters are known 
to be especially susceptible to the effects of the poly com¬ 
pounds; it is standard procedure to test with the animal 
known to be the most sensitive to a product in order to 
establish maximum damage. Why didn’t Dr. Krantz use 
hamsters? 

“I have not worked with the hamster,” Dr. Krantz said, 
except to inject some materials into them, and I didn’t like 
them as experimental animals, and discarded them al¬ 
together in my laboratory.” For most of his tests he used 
only rats, he said. 

A committee member asked Dr. Krantz if he had been 
paid for conducting the tests. He said he had, and he also 
was a consultant to the firm. 

Q. Had you been employed by some person who had 
indicated a desire to show that these products are harmful, 
would it have been possible to have changed the methods 
employed to reach a conclusion different from that which 
you did reach? 

A. Sir, I only know one way of doing an experiment, 
and that is to bring in all of the possible conditions, and 
then run adequate controls and let the chips fall w'here 
they will. 

Q. The reason I asked that question was, because it has 
been indicated here before, we have gotten such a contra¬ 
dictory mass of evidence that I wondered if it was possible 
for scientists to go about it in a different way and arrive 
at a different answer. 

A. What has happened in many of these cases, if you 
will permit me to make this comment, is that people have 
manipulated diets, they have left out factors, they have 
added factors, they have made synthetic diets. . . . 

The bewildered Delaney Committee tried to unravel its 
confusion by calling other witnesses who had experimented 
with the emulsifiers. Among them was Dr. B. S. Schwei- 




EMULSIFIERS—WHOSE LABORATORY. WHICH TESTS? 143 

gert head of the division of biochemistry and physiology of 
the American Meat Foundation, who had conducted his 
tests with the help of Dr. Anton J. Carlson at the Univer¬ 
sity of Chicago. While their experiments did not turn up 
quite so sensational a catalogue of biological horrors as 
did the Swift tests, they did disclose extensive damage to 
several internal organs. 

Dr. Schweigert testified that short-term tests with ham¬ 
sters fed some of the poly compounds at 5 per cent of 
their diet, showed “definite deleterious effects” after ten 
weeks. He said no experiments had been conducted with 
lower levels. 

Whether the poly compounds should be added to foods 
is a problem that involves not only their safety and degree 
of toxicity, he said, but also whether they contribute any¬ 
thing nutritionally to the food. “As far as I have been 
able to ascertain, they would reduce the caloric value of 
the food ... so that. . . aside from the question of safety, 
then, the problem of the nutritive value of the product 
also must be considered. 

Dr. Schweigert pointed out that it was also necessary 
to remember that some people eat relatively large quanti¬ 
ties of a single food. “Some older people or young 
children . . . might not have as great an ability to prevent 
deleterious effects of a chemical as some people who do 
not eat so much of it or are generally in a better state of 
health or perhaps are middle-aged,” he stated. 

Dr. Carlson, also testifying about the poly products, 
said much work should be done on a great many species 
of animals before these chemicals could be considered 
safe. The outcome of such long-time work could not be 
predicted, he said, because “the subclinical injury, serious 
injury, we have no certain methods to detect. Small 
amounts of injury in certain percentages of the people 
may go undiscovered for generations. This is a serious 
problem involved in the changes of such fundamental 
things as that type of food for man.” 

Dr. Carlson also defended the use of testing certain poly 
compounds although they were not actually used in foods, 
pointing out that such testing serves as a guide to possible 
injurious consequences from chemically related compounds 
that are being used. In view of the test results of the poly 
compounds, he flatly said, “We should not yet introduce 


144 


THE POISONS IN YOUE FOOD 


them in human food,” adding that the number of foods 
they were used in accentuated the problem. 

Another witness who testified about tests on the prod¬ 
ucts was Dr. Robert S. Harris, head of the nutritional 
bio-chemistry laboratories at Massachusetts Institute of 
Technology. Dr. Harris said the tests there were financed, 
half by the Shortening Institute and half by M.I.T., and 
that they were done at his personal request after he at¬ 
tended the bread hearings that lead to fixed standards for 
bread. His only motive, he said, was to test a vitamin 
theory of his in relation to the use of the poly chemicals; 
he emphasized that he had no personal interest in the 
outcome. 

Dr. Harris said his tests showed no vitamin K defi¬ 
ciency among rats fed the poly substances; but some of 
the animals lost their tails and others died prematurely; 
those that survived suffered such ailments as kidney and 
bladder stones, liver damage, impaired growth, diarrhea, 
poor food utilization and other adverse effects. 

Dr. Harris was asked if he could explain why the results 
of his tests, which paralleled findings of the Schweigert- 
Carlson studies, were so radically different from those of 
Dr. Krantz. 

The primary difference, he said, was the amount of the 
substances fed to the animals. He said the 25 per cent 
dietary level he used was not excessive, because it repre¬ 
sented only fifty times the expected exposure of the popu¬ 
lation. If these compounds are used extensively in the 
food supply, he added, “I don’t think that a level of fifty 
times the expected exposure for a substance that is to be 
used in staple foods is a high level at all. ... I might add 
that I feel that maybe this level should be increased above 
twenty-five times when this substance is to be used in 
staple foods and foods that will be consumed from day to 
day.” 

Many things could influence the outcome of feeding 
tests on animals, he explained: the amount of the com¬ 
pound given, the number and species used, whether the 
material was fed by mouth or into the stomach by tube, 
the animals’ diet, length of time the tests were continued 
and many other factors. 

Many toxicity tests in the past were unreliable, Dr. 
Harris testified, because the animal groups studied were too 
small, their diets were inadequate nutritionally, routine 



EMULSIFIERS—WHOSE LABORATORY, WHICH TESTS? 145 

observations were not extensive, the histopathology (tissue 
studies) was improperly done, and other factors. 

“Toxicity tests require the combined skills of the nutria 
tional biochemist, the toxicologist, and pathologist,” he 
said. “Since none of these is fully qualified to carry out 
these studies alone, they should be conducted by a team 
of experts.” This is an ideal which has been met so rarely 
that it casts serious doubt on most of the tests purporting 
to prove the safety of chemicals now in use. 

Finally, said Dr. Harris, animal tests can at best be only 
guides and “no toxicity tests on animals ever give absolute 
proof of the harmlessness of a compound in human 
beings." [Emphasis the author’s.] 

Complete testing of a compound costs $25,000 to 
$50,000, he said. “Though large, the sum is insignificant, 
for we are dealing with human health and the human life. 
It is likely that some of our chemically treated foods are 
partly responsible for some of the illness of the American 
people; whether the incidence is great, no one knows. It 
is also likely that chemicals in foods have caused deaths, 
but again we do not know how frequently." [Emphasis 
the author’s.] 

Dr. Harris made the significant statement that at the 
time he ran his tests a proposal was before the FDA to 
permit use of the poly compounds as optional ingredients 
in white bread and flour without restriction. But after re¬ 
sults of his tests were made known, he said, the proposal 
was changed to exclude the laurate (poly) type of 
compound. 

“Possibly,” he added, “if more work were done on 
some of the compounds still included in the revised pro¬ 
posal, they too might have been shown to be harmful to 
animals and the proposal would then be restricted still 
further.” 

This suggests that, had it not been for Dr. Harris’ chance 
experiments, the poly compounds probably would have 
been included in the bread standards as adopted, and that 
he was not satisfied that the emulsifiers still permitted to 
be used in bread had been proved conclusively safe. 

The standards provided for the use of mono- and diglyc¬ 
erides, and they are still in use. 

In a sideswipe at the glyceride emulsifiers, Isaac Fogg, 
president of Atlas Powder Company, said the two types of 
emulsifiers were “used substantially for the same purpose” 


146 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


and were in competition; also that “twice as much mono- 
and diglycerides generally is needed to do the same job” 
as the poly compounds. 

“Manufacturers of mono- and diglycerides devoted their 
case at FDA almost exclusively to testimony designed to 
exclude Atlas products from the proposed bread stand¬ 
ards,” he charged, “while seeking to mask the true bread- 
softening effects of their own emulsifiers. ...” 

Citing previous testimony about tests on poly emulsifiers 
by Swift’s scientists and the American Meat Institute 
Foundation, Mr. Fogg declared: “Although the Chicago 
record shows that mono- and diglycerides are the end re¬ 
sult of a chemical process and are surface-active agents 
like Atlas products, I think it is significant that while one 
of these competitors spent considerable time and money 
testing Atlas emulsifiers, he admitted to comparatively little 
knowledge of safety tests on his own mono- and 
diglycerides. 

“Many of the questions our competitors have sought to 
raise about the safety of our products apply to mono- and 
diglycerides as well. These questions, as I understand it, 
have to do with the effects of surface-active agents on the 
absorption and digestion of other foods in the body. If 
such questions are valid as applied to our products, they 
are equally applicable to all types of surface-active agents.” 

Mr. Fogg then made a revealing statement about the in¬ 
tramural aspects of competitive practices among companies 
selling chemical additives and the government’s role as an 
impartial observer: 

“It happens that the two giant manufacturers of glyc¬ 
erides are also the principal producers of emulsifying 
shortening. Through a system of patent licensing they had 
developed for themselves and their licensees an exclusive 
business in the addition of chemical emulsifiers to shorten¬ 
ing. The food industry’s growing preference for Atlas 
emulsifiers has posed a definite threat to the monopolistic 
position of these vast concerns.” 

Stating that Atlas was asking to reopen the bread hear¬ 
ings so they could prove there had been discrimination, 
Mr. Fogg continued: 

“Essentially, we are requesting that mono- and diglyc¬ 
erides be subjected by FDA to the same criteria, stand¬ 
ards, and tests as our products—a comparison which has 
not been made in the bread hearings to date Moreover, 




EMULSIFIERS—WHOSE LABORATORY. WHICH TESTS? 147 

we have specifically suggested to FDA that all competing 
surface-active agents, including both mono- and diglycer¬ 
ides and Atlas emulsifiers, be subjected to tests by an 
impartial research group, with both the testing body and 
method determined by FDA. . . . 

“It is not in the American tradition . . . for a govern¬ 
ment agency to favor one product over another without 
subjecting both to the same scrutiny. . . 

Mr. Fogg’s remarks about the unknown effects of soft¬ 
eners were underscored by warnings that appeared else¬ 
where. Baker’s Weekly (June 25, 1951) discussed a “not 
for publication” study of the Food and Nutrition Board of 
the National Research Council. 

The report cautioned that there was insufficient scientific 
information to justify their use in foods “at this time,” and 
there was no conclusive proof “that their effect will be 
harmless, especially when used in a variety of foods con¬ 
sumed over a long period of time. . . . On surface-active 
agents generally, including the mono- and diglycerides, 
they feel,that additional research is necessary in order to 
judge the accumulative effect of such materials as found in 
various types of foods.” 

An earlier report of the American Medical Association’s 
Council on Foods and Nutrition noted that the “wide¬ 
spread” addition of surface-active agents into foods was 
viewed by the Council “with considerable apprehension. 
. . . Available knowledge of the possible toxicity of these 
substances is fragmentary; particularly is evidence lacking 
as to chronic toxicity. The employment of these agents in 
the processing of such basic foods as bread and bakery 
goods, as well as other foods . . . could lead to the inges¬ 
tion of considerable quantities of these materials of un¬ 
certain toxicologic action. . . .” 

Another critic of the softeners was the American Insti¬ 
tute of Baking, which advised against their use as early as 
1945. When Dr. William B. Bradley, scientific director of 
the Institute, appeared before the Delaney Committee in 
1951, he was asked whether the use of softeners—aside 
from the question of toxicity—was in the interest of 
consumers. 

“I do not see that it performs a function useful to the 
consumer,” he replied. 

He pointed out that the poly softeners did not keep 
bread from going stale but merely kept it soft. A loaf of 



148 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


bread that contained them would be soft, he said, but it 
also could be “somewhat stale,” adding that softeners do 
not retard the staling process “at all.” 

The committee, turning its attention to the glyceride 
compounds, focused on one called Esterine, manufactured 
by Swift & Company. 

Q. What recommendations were made to bakers by the 
manufacturers of Esterine? 

A. At one time it was claimed that Esterine could be 
used to increase the absorption of the doughs, in other 
words, to provide a means of getting more water into the 
dough. . . . 

Q. Putting more water in? 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. Saving money for the baker? 

A. Well, it could. If he doesn’t bake it out, it could. 

Dr. Bradley was asked if the reaction product of the 
wheat starch with the monoglycerides was digestible by the 
enzymes of the intestinal tract. He replied: 

“I do not know. I know that in the test tubes . . . that 
product remains undigested, but whether it is digested in 
the alimentary tract or not, I do not know.” 

He then was asked if he had reached a conclusion with 
respect to the value to consumers of the use of the mono- 
and diglycerides as bread ingredients. 

A. Yes, sir. 

Q. What conclusion have you reached? 

A. I think that it is of no value to the ultimate 
consumer. 

Q. Would you repeat that, please? 

A. I think it is of no value to the ultimate consumer. 

Several other witnesses testified that the use of emulsi¬ 
fiers had made it possible to replace natural ingredients of 
high nutritional value—fats, oils, eggs and milk—in baked 
goods containing these chemicals. A U.S. Department of 
Agriculture official lamented that this substitution could 
work to the disadvantage of the farm economy—but others 
noted that it also might not be so good for human beings, 
either. 





9 

White Bread- 
Enriched but 
Still Impoverished 

(i) 

The average loaf of commercial white bread sold 
today is primarily the product of chemical ingenuity, 
cjever mechanical technology and 'advertising guile. 

It is subjected, to a bombardment of chemicals, stripped 
of virtually all nutrients, given a few synthetic vitamins, 
shot with emulsifier to keep it soft and, with a final touch 
of Voltairian irony, sold to the gullible public as an en¬ 
riched product. 

Bread and most other commercial baked goods are more 
closely allied with the test tube than with nature. Several 
years ago Emanuel Kaplan and Ferdinand A. Dorff, of the 
Baltimore City Health Department, listed the chemical fate 
of the various ingredients used in common bakery practice. 
Their report, “Exotic Chemicals in Food,” was presented at 
a meeting of Food and Drug Association officials and 
published in the Quarterly Bulletin of the Association of 
Food and Drug Officials of the United States. Some of its 
highlights were these statements: 

Let us quickly consider the chemical treatment of the 
various ingredients used in bakery practice. The flour is 
derived from seeds probably treated for plant disease pro¬ 
tection with organic mercurials or similar agents and the 
seeds are planted on soil influenced by fertilizers. Selenium 
(an exceedingly poisonous mineral substance) may be ex¬ 
tracted from the soil. In milling, flour is treated with im¬ 
provers, oxidizing agents such as persulfate, bromate, io- 


149 



150 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


date and nitrogen trichloride, which affect protease activity 
and gluten properties. 

Bleaching agents such as oxides of nitrogen, chlorine and 
benzoyl peroxide convert the yellow carotenoid pigment to 
colorless compounds because of alleged consumer desire 
for white bread. Vitamins and minerals are added in com¬ 
pulsory “enrichment.” Mineral salts may be added to sta¬ 
bilize gas-retaining properties of flour gluten. Cyanide or 
chlorinated organic compounds may be employed in fumi¬ 
gation of the resulting flour in storage. 

The water used may be chemically purified by means of 
alum, soda ash, copper sulfate and chlorine. In the refin¬ 
ing of sugar, lime, sulfur dioxide, phosphates and charcoal 
are employed. The salt may contain iodide and agents such 
as calcium and magnesium carbonates to promote “free- 
running” and prevent caking. 

Ammonium salts and other chemicals are employed as 
yeast nutrients. To help feed the yeast diastatic enzymes 
in the form of malt preparations may be used. Chemical 
leaveners may contain sodium bicarbonate, alum, tartrates, 
phosphates, starch, and cream of tartar. Fluorine is a pos¬ 
sible natural contaminant of the phosphate. The shortening 
is a refined, bleached, deodorized product, possibly hydro¬ 
genated to change liquid oil to plastic fat and if so, con¬ 
taining traces of nickel; or the shortening may be glycer- 
inated and may contain antioxidants. 

Oleomargarine, if used, may have added color, vitamin 
A, neutralizers, interface modifiers and preservative; or the 
margarine may be packaged in a preservative-treated wrap¬ 
per. Mineral oil is frequently used as a dough trough or 
pan lubricant. The eggs may be liquid, dry, or frozen 
whole eggs, yolk or white, treated with sugar, glycerine, 
preservative or interface modifier. 

Milk or milk products may contain neutralizer and anti¬ 
oxidants. Special pastry shells may be treated with alkalies 
such as ammonium carbonate, which incidentally through 
excessive use denature the protein and render it indiges¬ 
tible. In pie making, the fruits employed probably contain 
sulfite and perhaps added citric acid, vitamin C or other 
antioxidant. Artificial coal tar color may be used. 

Stabilizers and thickeners such as gums and treated 
starches may be employed as fillers. Synthetic flavors used 
contain glycerine, alcohol or substitute chemicals as solv¬ 
ents for a variety of alcohols, aldehydes, esters, acids and 




WHITE BREAD—ENRICHED BUT STILL IMPOVERISHED 151 

ketones, and may contain saccharin. Spices may be natural 
spices subjected to fumigants or solvent-extracted spice 
essences. Mold inhibitors such as calcium propionate may 
be employed and the final product may be contaminated 
on the store shelf with insecticidal powders such as sodium 
fluoride. 

The report could not note the deluge of new chemicals 
that have come into common use since it was published a 
decade ago; it also could not take into account the fact 
that virtually every ingredient would be contaminated by 
residue of DDT and other powerful new pesticides that 
now drench the earth. 

Among the ingredients mentioned in the report, the 
hydrogenated oils, whose use is increasing, deserve elab¬ 
oration. These have been closely linked to heart disease. 
Production of hydrogenated oils now amounts to one bil¬ 
lion pounds annually. 

Hydrogenation turns liquid oils solid, so they may be 
stored longer without turning rancid, and are less subject 
to absorption of extraneous tastes and odors. Dr. Jolliffe 
says that diets high in saturated fats (including hydroge¬ 
nated oils) result in high levels of blood cholesterol. It is 
believed that this substance is deposited in the arteries, 
bringing on heart disease. 

The most common ingredient in baking is white flour. 
In the diet of the average American, white flour, refined 
white sugar and saturated (non-liquid) fats make up more 
than half his food intake, according to many nutritionists. 
This means a diet composed primarily of carbohydrates, 
without compensating protein to build and maintain the 
body. 

The fate that befalls an innocent wheat berry more fit¬ 
tingly belongs in the annals of crime than in a treatise on 
foods. “We throw away the germ and the vitamins and a 
great deal of the valuable proteins and retain essentially the 
starch,” noted Dr. Carlson. “Then we call that bread or 
flour enriched when as a matter of fact it is still impover¬ 
ished. ... If we had to depend on white bread, as the 
people in the Orient depend on polished rice, we would be 
a sicker people than we are.” 

The starchy, anemic part of the wheat grain that survives 
the milling process is an excellent vehicle to hold the chem¬ 
icals and water that go into it. The Medical Press , a prom¬ 
inent British journal for physicians, observed that among 



152 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


the changes chemical adulteration has brought in foods is 
the baking of loaves of bread which are very large for their 
weight, containing “as much water as can be persuaded to 
‘stand up.’ ” 

The baking industry as a whole has been content to sell 
the public a counterfeit product labeled bread, concentrat¬ 
ing on high-pressure advertising to proclaim its nonexistent 
tastiness and nutritional properties. Among the few excep¬ 
tions has been Pepperidge Farm in Norwalk, Connecticut; 
the success of their product proves that the public is will¬ 
ing to pay premium prices for quality if it understands the 
advantage in nutrition and taste. 

While the baking industry cannot be blamed entirely for 
the widespread use of white bread, it has done little to re¬ 
educate the public to the advantages of whole-wheat bread 
made from freshly ground wheat. It has compounded this 
disservice by producing a whole-wheat bread lacking in 
taste and quality. Almost anyone who has eaten well pre¬ 
pared home-made whole-wheat bread is forever spoiled for 
eating ordinary commercial breads. 

In re-educating the public to the taste and nutritive qual- 
ties of whole-wheat bread, one of the primary obstacles to 
be overcome is tradition. As far back as the days of the 
Roman Empire it was a social distinction to eat white 
bread; only the lower classes had dark bread. Dr. Carlson 
recalled: “I have seen educated American women, college 
graduates, crying when they saw the Russian Cossacks eat¬ 
ing that black bread, which is whole rye, and it is the thing 
that keeps the Russian going. We ignorant Americans cry 
and think that is terrible.” 

A second obstacle to overcome is the common belief 
that there is little if any nutritional difference between 
white and whole-wheat bread. The baker is delighted to 
maintain this canard because white flour will keep much 
longer than whole-wheat. Several scientists have noted that 
bugs avoid bleached flour because it doesn’t have enough 
nutrition to keep them alive. “Only humans eat it,” said 
Dr. Carlson. 

Samuel Lepkovsky of the College of Agriculture at the 
University of California in Berkeley, and author of The 
Bread Problem in War and in Peace, noted that “instead 
of being alarmed at the decreased nutritive value of white 
flour as shown by the inability of insect pests to thrive on 




WHITE BREAD—ENRICHED BUT STILL IMPOVERISHED 153 

it, the production of white flour was hailed as a great 
forward step.” 

For more than twenty-five years flour was bleached and 
“matured” with nitrogen trichloride, a gas known as Agene. 
But in 1946 the late Sir Edward Mellanby, a distinguished 
British physician and nutritionist, discovered that dogs fed 
bread made with Agene-treated flour developed “running 
fits” or “canine hysteria.” 

Not until 1950 was Agene legally banned for use, and it 
was not until 1955 that the ban was enforced—some ten 
years after the substance was found to be a powerful nerve 
poison for dogs. 

With the prohibition of the use of Agene, the govern¬ 
ment repeatedly emphasized that industry voluntarily quit 
using the substance before it legally had to, citing this as 
an example of industry’s sense of responsibility to the peo¬ 
ple. Much also was made of the fact that there was no 
proof that human beings had been injured by consuming 
Agene-treated flour. 

Having demonstrated their sense of responsibility by 
voluntarily renouncing Agene only after a substitute gas 
was found, the flour millers announced that its replacement 
would be chlorine dioxide. The 1948 edition of the authori¬ 
tative Lockwood’s Flour Milling had this to say about that 
substance: 

Chlorine dioxide (Addage process)—The use of 
chlorine dioxide is more powerful than nitrogen tri¬ 
chloride (Agene); the quantities used are one-third to 
half those of nitrogen trichloride. Chlorine dioxide not 
only oxidizes the flour pigment but also has a valuable 
bleaching effect on the coloring matter of bran, which 
makes it particularly valuable for bleaching low grade 
flours. 

Use of chlorine dioxide was approved over the protests 
of many U.S. nutritionists. The FDA lists the gas as a 
poisonous substance, permitting it on grounds that it is 
“probably safe as normally used.” The late Leonard Wick- 
enden, a noted chemist, cheerfully pointed out in his book 
Our Daily Poison that “No one has yet discovered that it 
gives dogs running fits so it is considered quite safe.” 

While Agene and chlorine dioxide generally are called 
bleaches, their primary purpose is to age flour artificially. 



154 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


Aging is considered necessary to give some flours the right 
consistency, but to avoid costly storage and waiting for the 
process to take place naturally, they are given a shot of gas. 

One of the first great crusaders for replacing white flour 
with whole-wheat was Sylvester Graham. Lepkovsky says 
Graham had an unusually good understanding of the nutri¬ 
tive properties of bread, noting that whole-wheat bread was 
almost a complete food and in addition could cure digestive 
disorders such as constipation and diarrhea; he also warned 
that removal of the bran by bolting (separating it from) 
the milled flour reduced the nutritive value. 

Lepkovsky quoted a J. B. Orr as recalling that during 
the Napoleonic wars the men from northern England and 
southern Scotland who lived in the country and had plenty 
of whole-wheat grain, milk, eggs and vegetables were big, 
powerful and energetic men who made the best infantry 
soldiers of Europe. During the Boer war a large percentage 
of the recruits from this district were short, frail weaklings 
who could not be used as soldiers. 

“A commission was appointed to investigate the cause of 
this striking change in the physical condition of these men, 
and the most probable explanation found was that many 
people who had moved off the land and had gone into the 
slums of the big cities where their eating habits had 
changed, and they were depending too largely on white 
flour and sugar.” 

In Denmark, during World War I, grains were not re¬ 
fined. As a result of this improved nutrition the death rate 
reportedly decreased substantially: cancer, diabetes, high 
blood pressure and heart and kidney diseases dropped 
sharply, and the general health of the population was 
greatly improved. Similar improvements in health were 
observed in England during World War II, when grains 
were only slightly milled. 

As far back as April 1919, the U.S. Public Health 
Service issued a warning that pellagra, beriberi and other 
deficiency diseases in the South had been traced to the 
refining of grains. But the millers applied such pressure 
that six months after the warning bulletin was issued the 
same public health officials backtracked by issuing a “cor¬ 
recting” bulletin, asserting that white bread was whole¬ 
some if balanced in the diet by an adequate consumption 
of the so-called protective foods: fruits, vegetables and 
dairy products. 




WHITE BREAD—ENRICHED BUT STILL IMPOVERISHED 155 

This introduced a technique that has been widely used 
since then by apologists for the food industry. In effect 
they were saying that it didn’t hurt to eat a deficient food 
if enough other nutritious foods were eaten to compensate 
for its shortcomings. 

The fallacy of the claim is apparent. People don’t look 
upon bread as a frivolous food; they buy it for nutritive 
values. In many families it is a major part of the diet, espe¬ 
cially among lower-income groups who depend upon it for 
a filler as well as a nutritional base. These people know 
nothing about protective foods that are supposed to be 
eaten as a crutch for the ailing white loaf, and the wrap¬ 
per never carries a warning to that effect. 

The correcting bulletin on bread marked a black mile¬ 
stone in the Government’s retreat from its obligation to 
protect the people from avaricious commercial interests. 
It was to serve as both policy and formula in subsequent 
clashes between public and industrial welfare. 

Despite spirited opposition to white bread by many 
doctors and health officials, the milling industry laid down 
a massive propaganda barrage which buried its opponents. 
Anyone who attacked the nutritive values of white bread 
was denounced. Industry was aided in this campaign by 
organized medicine and the Government 

On May 7, 1930, the millers won a tremendous victory 
when the United States Department of Agriculture issued 
a release signed by a dozen eminent nutritionists in and 
out of government. The nub of this release was its con¬ 
clusion: 

Bread, either white or whole wheat, is always an 
economical source of energy and protein in any 
diet. The form may be left to the choice of the indi¬ 
vidual when the remainder of the diet is so consti¬ 
tuted as to contribute the necessary minerals, vita¬ 
mins, and any necessary roughage. 

This followed the established pattern noted previously. 
All it said was, in effect, that the deficiencies of white 
bread would not become apparent if the rest of the diet 
compensated for them. 

This technique of misleading the public about the nutri¬ 
tive value of milled grains is still in effect, along with the 
parallel technique of assailing anyone who attempts to 
interfere with profits from the sale of impoverished foods. 



156 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


( 2 ) 

By the time World War II erupted, opposition to white 
flour and bread had been virtually stilled. But, as pointed 
out by Lepkovsky, it was apparent under the impact of 
war that the nutrition of the army and civilians would play 
a major role in the struggle of survival and “the nutri¬ 
tional poverty of white bread as compared with whole¬ 
wheat was so great as to demand attention.” 

This led to the fortification of white bread. 

The fact that it was found necessary to fortify bread 
with additional vitamins and minerals should have been 
proof that the previous claims about its nutritional values 
were misleading. Unfortunately, however, this self-evident 
fact was buried under a new propaganda barrage that a 
good product was being made even better. 

To understand what is involved in fortifying bread, it 
is helpful to observe what happens to the grain in milling: 

A grain of wheat, or berry, as it is called, is composed 
of three principal parts: the outer shell or husk, the en¬ 
dosperm or kernel and the germ from which the grain 
reproduces itself. When the grain is planted the husk pro¬ 
tects the seed while it germinates, and the endosperm—a 
carbohydrate—feeds the germ until it gets a foothold and 
takes nutrients from the earth and air. 

The modern steel flour mill is a devilishly clever device; 
it removes the husk and the germ of a grain of wheat, 
leaving only the endosperm; it is the endosperm from 
which flour is made. 

The flour that emerges is little more than pure starch, 
containing only about seven to eleven per cent low-grade 
protein; when mixed with water the flour becomes an 
easily shaped paste. The miller loves white flour because 
of its long-keeping qualities and unattractiveness to bugs. 
But a secondary attraction is that he can sell the removed 
bran as feed for animals, and the wheat germ as a food 
supplement for human beings and animals. 

Dr. Carlson testified that “It is a tragedy to me . . . that 
we mill the best of our ingredients out of our grain and 
that the best part is fed to hogs and cattle while we eat 
the poorest part.” 

In the discarded parts are nutrients essential to human 
health and life. The husk (itself made up of three layers) 
is composed of minerals and vitamins, including the essen- 




WHITE BREAD—ENRICHED BUT STILL IMPOVERISHED 157 

tial B vitamins. The germ, along with its high protein and 
mineral content, is rich in vitamin E and the complete 
vitamin B; this is one of the few sources of vitamin E, 
which is known to play an essential part in animal repro¬ 
duction and is believed to be important in human repro¬ 
duction. Recent studies suggest that vitamin-E deficiency 
may be a factor in heart disease. 

Vitamin B, once thought to consist of a single vitamin, 
now is known to consist of at least ten separate vitamins, 
and it is believed there are others—perhaps many others 
—still unidentified. These are known as the B complex. 
The vitamin B complex is necessary to the function of 
every cell in the body, and when it is lacking, affections 
of the liver, the cardiovascular system, the nervous sys¬ 
tem and the digestive system occur. 

An extreme vitamin B shortage can lead to beriberi and 
pellagra, once rampant in the southern United States, but 
in less acute form these ailments—still widely prevalent— 
are often diagnosed as other forms of illness. 

Because of misleading propaganda, people in the United 
States seldom think of themselves as suffering from vita¬ 
min and other dietary deficiencies due to poor nutrition. 
But the fact is that a large proportion of the population 
does not eat enough of the right foods, and many people 
are on the border of deficiency diseases from improper 
diet. 

The late Dr. Tom D. Spies, one of the most famous 
and highly respected physicians and nutrition researchers 
in America, has pointed out: “Investigation of the diets of 
large groups of people correlated with laboratory studies 
and direct examination has led to the startling observa¬ 
tion that the margin of safety against deficiency disease is 
narrow rather than broad, that the presence of nutritional 
inadequacy is widespread and not limited to the lower 
economic group. As information is increasing, it is found 
that relatively few people in the United States consistently 
eat diets that are adequate in all respects. . . .” 

Most of the investigations of Dr. Spies, who was chair¬ 
man of the Department of Nutrition and Metabolism at 
Northwestern University Medical School and Professor 
of Nutrition and Metabolism at the celebrated Hillman 
Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, centered around vita¬ 
min B deficiencies. He and other researchers have ex- 



158 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


pressed concern about the frequency with which a defi¬ 
ciency of this essential vitamin complex is encountered. 

The wheat germ is one of only four known sources of 
the complete vitamin B, and few if any other sources con¬ 
tain as much vitamin E. As already noted, bleaching 
destroys the flour’s carotene content, which is a source 
of vitamin A. Between the ingenious milling process and 
the heat generated by modern mills made of steel (which 
replaced stone mills) virtually all vitamins and most of 
the minerals—-including calcium and iron—are removed 
in processing. 

Dr. Lionel Picton, who has championed whole wheat* 
noted that in 1864 18 ounces of bread made from whole 
wheat contained 540 units of the complete vitamin B, 
and before fortification 18 ounces of white bread con¬ 
tained just 70 units. 

Daily consumption of whole-wheat bread in 1840 is 
said to have assured 1,200 units of natural B x while 
today’s average daily intake of fortified bread assures only 
200 units, mostly synthetic. 

Although the nutritional shortcomings of white bread 
were not corrected by the fortifying program, it was an 
ingenious solution to the baking industry’s problem. The 
millers could answer their critics, claiming they were doing 
their part to improve the nation’s health, while they con¬ 
tinued the profitable practice of milling most nutrients out 
of the grain and added a slight charge for a few synthetic 
vitamins pumped into the bread. 

Despite the opportunities for propaganda and advertising 
that enrichment offered, the baking and flour interests at 
first were only lukewarm toward the program. Only when 
convinced it would be national suicide not to improve the 
diet did they lend their reluctant support. Later, however, 
they realized the commercial advantages to be gained and 
became enthusiastic supporters of the “new improved loaf ” 

The enrichment program had only the half-hearted sup¬ 
port of nutritionists; many openly opposed it. There was 
never any real question about the nutritional superiority 
of whole-wheat over white bread, even when the latter 
was “enriched.’’ This fact was established by numerous 
experiments on both sides of the Atlantic. 

At a meeting of the National Nutrition Conference, Dr 
John Murlin of the University of Rochester disclosed that 
dogs fed the six synthetic vitamins proposed for use in 



WHITE BREAD—ENRICHED BUT STILL IMPOVERISHED 159 

“enriched” bread “remained deficient, but the deficiency 
cleared up at once when the dogs were fed yeast, indi¬ 
cating essential but as yet unknown factors in the vitamin 
B complex.” 

This confirmed warnings by other researchers that en¬ 
richment would add just part of the B complex to the diet, 
and while thiamine was necessary to the diet, they said, so 
were other factors in the B complex; they added that an 
adequate diet could be compared with a chain whose 
strength was determined by its weakest link. 

Many investigators pointed out that splitting the B com¬ 
plex was strictly a laboratory maneuver, never occurring 
in nature. Several researchers warned that giving only a 
couple of synthetic single B vitamins, rather than the entire 
B complex, might create imbalances with adverse conse¬ 
quences. 

Dr. Marion B. Richards, a British investigator, demon¬ 
strated that overloading a diet with vitamin B x could 
produce a deficiency of vitamin B e , producing symptoms 
of deficiency because the B complex had been unbalanced. 
Dr. Richards concluded by warning that attempts to im¬ 
prove the diet with indiscriminate additions of large sup¬ 
plements of single synthetic B vitamins might bring on 
ailments more serious than those they were designed to 
correct. 

Dr. Richards’ countryman, Dr. Picton, found it unfortu¬ 
nate that “enriching” was always referred to as adding 
vitamins to the bread. “It is perhaps a pity that they did 
not phrase it ‘restored to,’ ” he said wryly, “for then the 
public might have asked, ‘Why ever was it taken out?’ ” 

Lepkovsky noted that the British turned the question of 
“enrichment” into a national debate that spilled over from 
the scientific world into the trade and lay press and was 
hotly debated on all sides. In Canada, he said, the medical 
men and nutritionists early appreciated the superiority of 
whole-wheat over “enriched” white bread and Canada’s 
leading scientists “took a definite stand against fortification 
of white flour. They insisted that the way to get the vitamin 
B complex in bread was to so mill the wheat that these 
vitamins would be retained.” Canada subsequently made it 
illegal to “enrich” bread. Great Britain adopted the prac¬ 
tice for a while and dropped it. 

The American performance on the “enrichment” pro¬ 
gram, Lepkovsky observed, “seems below par. Unlike the 


160 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


English, the Americans have not discussed with any degree 
of thoroughness the relative merits of whole-wheat bread, 
white bread and ‘enriched’ white bread.” 

Perhaps the most outspoken critic of the “enrichment” 
proposal was a United States Health Service official, who 
delivered this blast: “. . . to me it seems a little ridiculous 
to take a natural foodstuff in which the vitamins and min¬ 
erals have been placed by nature, submit this foodstuff to 
a refining process which removes them, and then add them 
back to the refined product at an increased cost. Yet this 
seems to be the thing that is being proposed. If this is the 
object, why not follow the cheaper, more sensible, and 
nutritionally more desirable procedure of simply using the 
unrefined, or, at most, slightly refined natural food?” 

Within a year, however, he had seen the error of his 
ways and was a vigorous advocate of the enrichment pro¬ 
gram. Apparently it no longer seemed ridiculous to him to 
remove some twenty natural vitamins and minerals from 
bread, replace them with four or five synthetic ones at 
higher cost and call the product “enriched.” 

In spite of the voluminous evidence that pointed to the 
folly and irresponsibility of fortifying bread, the Food and 
Nutrition Board of the National Research Council an¬ 
nounced on January 29, 1941, its recommendation to 
enrich flour and bread. Lepkovsky said: 

“The Council on Foods and Nutrition of the American 
Medical Association accepted the ‘enriched’ white flour 
because ‘thiamin is the component which makes whole 
wheat most significant in the diet at the present time.’ No 
attempt was made to justify this sweeping statement. The 
council pointed out the presence of factors other than 
thiamin in whole wheat not present in white flour, but this 
objection to white flour was conveniently sidestepped by 
calling these other factors ‘plus values’ which the Council 
assumed, without any supporting evidence, were furnished 
by the rest of the diet. Yet they recognized that the ‘rest’ 
of many poorer diets might not furnish these ‘plus values.’ 

“Finally, they emphasize the high nutritional qualities 
of whole wheat and recommended undermilled flours. 
Thus the Council on Food and Nutrition straddled the 
issue of whole-wheat flour versus ‘enriched’ white flour and 
failed to give the country the leadership so ably given to 
England by the British Medical Council. Moreover, direct 
experimental evidence proved that the ‘plus values’ were 



WHITE BREAD—ENRICHED BUT STILL IMPOVERISHED 161 

not present in the diet of large sections of our population.” 

In May 1941, Lepkovsky continued, the National Nutri¬ 
tion Conference for Defense met at Washington to dis¬ 
cuss nutritional problems created by the war emergency. 
“ ‘Enriched’ white flour was accepted without discussion.” 

Lepkovsky found it difficult to see how in the face of 
the “impressive evidence of the nutritional superiority of 
whole-wheat bread, backed as it is by so many feeding 
tests,” the AMA’s Committee on Food and Nutrition could 
recommend “enriched” white flour. 

In May 1941, the enrichment formula for bread was 
established. The formula returned three—later four—of 
twenty known (and probably others not yet identified) 
elements that were removed from whole-wheat bread and 
was launched under the banner of “enriched.” 

The program at first was adopted as a voluntary war¬ 
time measure, but became mandatory in January 1943. 

Once more the Government made the public guinea pigs 
in a mass chemical experiment. 

Numerous experiments since the program was adopted 
have confirmed the nutritional inadequacy of “enriched” 
bread compared to whole wheat. In one experiment carried 
out by Dr. Estelle Hawley, Associate Professor of Pedi¬ 
atrics and Nutrition at Rochester University, one group of 
rats was fed “enriched” commercial white bread and an¬ 
other was given bread made with the Cornell formula. The 
latter, formulated by Dr. Clive McCay at Cornell, consists 
of unbleached flour enriched with natural food products: 
wheat germ, soy-bean flour and a high proportion of milk 
solids. 

Rats on the McCay-Comell formula thrived, as did their 
offspring through the fourth generation. Rats on the com¬ 
mercial white bread became sickly and starved-looking and 
produced stunted offspring; all died off and the strain be¬ 
came extinct before the fourth generation. 

The McCay formula produced such a superior white 
bread that the entrenched bread interests screamed. This 
brought the FDA on the run to protest that Dr. McCay’s 
bread could not be sold in interstate commerce as white 
bread. It was too good to be called bread. FDA wanted to 
call it cake. Only after much controversy was the loaf per- 
mitter to be called bread—if the ingredients were printed 
on the label. 

Few nutritionists have had kind words to say about “cn- 


162 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


riched” bread, and those who have come to its support 
usually cannot be properly described as financially disinter¬ 
ested. Most nutritionists without commercial ties have been 
uniformly outspoken against it. 

One of the more pithy attacks was launched by nutri¬ 
tionist Adelle Davis, author of many books in her field. 
She said about “enriched” bread: “Enriched—yes—en¬ 
riched like you are enriched when a highway robber takes 
your money at the point of a gun, then returns to you a 
dime to buy streetcar fare home . . . So-called ‘enriched’ 
flour is my idea of outright dishonesty.” 


10 

The Sugar Story 

White sugar represents another victim of the food re¬ 
finer’s black art. Chemical wizardry has enabled him to 
strip natural sugar-producing crops of their original nutri¬ 
ents until there remains only a pure carbohydrate in¬ 
capable of sustaining life. 

The American people are among the heaviest users of 
sugar in the world, averaging more than one hundred 
pounds per capita—compared to consumption a hundred 
years ago of only ten pounds per person. 

Sugar represents about 9 per cent by weight of the total 
food consumed. According to the American Medical 
Association’s Handbook of Nutrition, “It is clear that the 
present large consumption of sugar is disadvantageous in 
that it means a smaller consumption of nutritionally 
superior foods. . . 

Behind the conversion of the American diet into a huge 
sugar bowl is a long and complex story, not without in¬ 
trigue and drama, that involves national and international 
economics, pressure politics and an undercover clash be¬ 
tween nutritionists and commercial interests. 

It is not pertinent to this book to go into the fascinating 
but extraneous economic-political history of sugar produc- 





THE SUGAR STORY 


163 


tion, except to note that it is a major industry in the United 
States; sugar interests maintain powerful lobbies in Wash¬ 
ington, and much of the national economy is based on the 
tremendous growth and consumption of the commodity. 
Under the U. S. Sugar Act of 1937, sugar is one of the 
most planned products in the whole United States economy 
—the planning being based on annual consumption which 
at the time of the act was about 100 pounds per capita. 

Behind the phenomenal growth of sugar consumption is 
a national sweet tooth that has been exploited by a relent¬ 
less campaign of propaganda and advertising based on 
duplicity and half truths. 

Americans have been educated to believe that sugar is a 
“quick-energy” food that is good for a quick pick-up. 
This theme has been so skillfully instilled in the national 
consciousness that countless numbers of people, already 
overweight and suffering the accompanying afflictions, 
managed to feel virtuous as they nibble their favorite 
sweet. 

To the nutritionist, refined sugar represents “empty calo¬ 
ries”—it supplies none of the protective or body-building 
elements necessary to sustain life. No vitamins, minerals or 
proteins. Further, it requires greater expenditure of body 
energy to utilize it than the energy it produces. 

Carlton Fredericks, nutritionist, who had a popular radio 
program on WOR in New York, is an outspoken foe of 
sugar. He cites experimental evidence by Dr. Russell 
Wilder, a Mayo Clinic physician, who found that increased 
use of sugar leads to a vitamin-B deficiency; a diet that 
ordinarily would be adequate in B vitamins became in¬ 
adequate when the intake of sugar was increased. 

Is excessive sugar intake a factor in the widespread 
vitamin deficiencies among people in this country? The 
National Research Council’s 1945 Bulletin of the Food and 
Nutritional Board, based on the correlated findings of 189 
research reports and surveys from coast to coast, con¬ 
cluded: “All evidence is in agreement that deficiency states 
are common among the population of the United States.” 

Any good book on nutrition points out the harmful 
effects of refined sugar—too much sugar or too many 
sweets of any kind, in fact. Research has shown it to be an 
indisputable factor in dental decay. Many medical investi¬ 
gators are convinced that it is at least a contributing cause 
of many ailments. 


164 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


The threat is increased because of the vast amount of 
sugar unsuspectingly consumed. Adelle Davis has pointed 
out that “our American diet has become largely one of 
sugar ... it seems that the survival of every person un¬ 
aware of nutrition is at stake: caught in this tide, the 
innocent victim is flooded by waves of sugar every time 
he entertains or is entertained, every time he eats at a 
restaurant, and often at every home meal and mid-meal. 
. . . This situation is not usually realized because many 
sugars are hidden. Persons may consume one or even two 
cups of sugar daily and still believe they have eaten ‘no 
sugar at all.’ 

“Besides the obvious sugar added to such foods as 
cereals, coffee, and fruits, or consumed in candy, jam, or 
jellies, as much as one or two tablespoons or more of gran¬ 
ulated sugar is obtained in each small glass of fruit-ade, 
ginger ale, cola drinks, cider, Manhattans, and highballs; 
every serving of cake, pie, gelatin dessert, ice cream, pud¬ 
ding, custard, or canned fruit with juice; or even a single 
cookie.” 

Many of these hidden sources of sugar are starches. The 
body can get all the starch it needs, along with valuable 
vitamins and minerals, from whole grains and fresh fruits 
and vegetables; but man’s sweet tooth, which should direct 
him to these essential foods, has been perverted by con¬ 
centrated sweets and processed foods that are almost wholly 
starches. 

A particularly rich source of hidden sugar is soft drinks, 
as noted by Dr. McCay in testifying before the Delaney 
Committee. Dr. McCay said that while he was in charge 
of nutrition research for the Navy during World War II, 
studies were made on certain .soft drinks, and it was found 
that all soft drinks consisted of about ten per cent sugar. 

This discovery, he said, led to some even more startling 
disclosures: 

“Since 1943,” he testified, “we have devoted substantial 
research to the study of injurious effects of the class of soft 
drinks known as the cola beverages. During World War II 
. . . I made a study of food purchases by men at ship’s 
service. Much money was spent for ‘cokes.’ The cola in¬ 
dustry was given sugar certificates for all the sugar sold to 
the armed services. While studying these certificates I was 
amazed to learn that the beverage contained substantial 
amounts of phosphoric acid. . . . 




THE SUGAR STORY 


165 


“At the Naval Medical Research Institute we put human 
teeth in a cola beverage and found they softened and started 
to dissolve within a short period.” 

He added that one of his laboratory technicians “became 
so expert in judging the conditions of the surface of the 
molar teeth of rats that she could tell those that had had 
one drink of cola beverage amounting to two and a half 
teaspoonfuls. . . . We have published data indicating that 
the molar teeth of rats are dissolved down to the gum line 
if rats are well fed but given nothing to drink except cola 
beverage for a period of six months.” 

Dr. McCay noted that dentists at the Mayo Clinic, 
Rochester, Minnesota, had published photographs of pa¬ 
tients’ teeth that were believed to have been eroded by 
cola beverages. 

Data have been published, he continued, “indicating 
that the cola beverages contain substantial amounts of 
caffeine. These cola beverages deserve careful considera¬ 
tion not only in relation to our national problem of poor 
teeth but in relation to our numerous cases of gastric 
ulcers, and welfare of our children. 

“The acidity of cola beverages ... is about the same as 
vinegar. The sugar content masks the acidity, and children 
little realize they are drinking this strange mixture of phos¬ 
phoric acid, sugar, caffeine, coloring, and flavoring matter. 

“Several other acids are used in other carbonated bev¬ 
erages and these all deserve careful study, since solutions 
even one-tenth as acid as the cola beverages are claimed to 
erode the enamel of teeth. 

“Since soft drinks are playing an increasingly important 
part in the American diet and tend to displace good foods 
such as milk, they deserve very careful consideration.” 

Dr. McCay was asked by Representative A. L. Miller 
who had charge of passing on the contents of soft drinks. 

“So far as I know, no one passes upon it or pays any 
attention to it,” Dr. McCay replied. 

Q. No one passes on the contents of soft drinks? 

A. So far as I know, no one. 

Congressman E. H. Hedrick asked if Dr. McCay had 
made any tests on the cola beverages with respect to the 
effect they have on metal or iron. 


166 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


A. No sir; I have not done any metal tests. 

Q. A friend of mine told me once that he dropped 
three tenpenny nails into one of the cola bottles, and in 
forty-eight hours the nails had completely dissolved. 

A. Sure, phosphoric acid there would dissolve iron or 
limestone. You might drop it on the steps, and it would 
erode the steps coming up here. Spill a bottle of cola on 
them, and you could see it fuzz up—try it. 

One committee member pointed out that a Washington 
doctor had prescribed a small amount of cola beverage for 
his baby. In view of Dr. McCay’s startling discovery, he 
wanted to know how that came about. 

“Well,” answered Dr. McCay, “they probably have not 
read the literature about the cola beverages. It is a very 
restricted literature; it has not ever been able to get into 
the press, so what does the American public know about 
it? It is not declared on the bottle. They are as ignorant 
as I was in 1943 about the composition of the beverages. 
How would the public ever know if it cannot get into the 
press? There is no way for them to know.” 

The press, while sparing the public from such disturbing 
disclosures, has been outspoken and courageous in warning 
the public against food “quacks” who decry the use of 
processed foods. There is, virtually, only one major nutri¬ 
tionist who has encouraged the public to eat sugar, white 
flour and other processed foods, and he is frequently found 
spearheading these attacks. 

Many experiments have pointed to a relationship be¬ 
tween sugar and tooth decay. Tooth decay has been found 
to be decreased markedly when a reduced sugar intake is 
reinforced by good nutrition. One of the most damning 
experiments pointing to sugar as the primary culprit in 
causing tooth cavities was performed at Harvard. 

Time Magazine (January 13, 1958) reported that bio¬ 
chemist Dr. James H. Shaw and his assistants had worked 
more than ten years in their laboratory at Harvard to find 
out how certain sugars promote tooth decay, and how to 
prevent it. 

The project, according to Time, was bankrolled, curiously 
enough, by the Sugar Research Foundation, Inc., to the 
tune of $57,500. The Shaw group reported their findings 




THE SUGAR STORY 


167 


in the Journal of the American Dental Association. Among 
them were the following: 

Tooth decay is caused only by food remaining in the 
mouth—proved by feeding rats through stomach tubes. 
Even sugar, fed this way, causes no decay. 

Sugar, in solution, causes little decay; granulated sugar 
(as sprinkled on fruits and cereals) causes much more. 

Of the various kinds of sugar, fructose (from most 
fruits), glucose (from grapes and starch foods), sucrose 
(table sugar, from cane or beets), lactose (from milk) 
and maltose (from beer) are all precipitators of decay. So 
is a high starch diet, even when relatively low in sugar. It 
does no good to substitute raw for refined sugar; but black¬ 
strap molasses causes a marked reduction in cavities. 
(Blackstrap molasses, along with being a source of jokes 
for comedians and a target of foes of food faddists, con¬ 
tains the concentrated vitamins and minerals that remain 
after the processing of white sugar.) 

“Dr. Shaw’s conclusion: ‘We should cut down on our 
sugar consumption, particularly candy. We should be care¬ 
ful about sugar in forms that remain in the mouth because 
of their physical properties.’ ” 

Time then concluded the article with this comment: 

“Along with his findings, Dr. Shaw also reported that his 
work has stopped. Reason: the Sugar Research Foundation 
withdrew its support.” 

In a nation that has been encouraged by commercial 
interests to eat mountains of candy and other carbohydrate 
products and drink oceans of sugar-saturated bellywash, 
the number of cavities and dental afflictions is hardly sur¬ 
prising. 

The extent of tooth decay in America came in for 
considerable attention before the Delaney Committee when 
Dr. Fred D. Miller, a dental authority from Altoona, 
Pennsylvania, testified. Dr. Miller, whose many professional 
honors and appointments include lecturing on his specialty 
at the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown Uni¬ 
versity, stated that dental decay is the most prevalent dis¬ 
ease known to civilized mankind, and at least 98 per cent 
of the .population of this country suffers from it. 

He noted that the American Dental Association rec¬ 
ognizes that there arc 285,000,000 cavities in the teeth of 
American children, and in the teeth of the adult popula- 


168 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


tion another 235,000,000 cavities—a backlog of over a 
half billion cavities! 

“We have in the United States about 78,000 dentists, 
who cannot possibly keep up with the velocity of dental 
decay, to say nothing of the other dental diseases which 
include the destruction of the bony support of the teeth 
and the diseased gum conditions,” he said. 

Dr. Miller testified: 

“During World War II, I was on the medical advisory 
board in our community. In the first draft of the first 
million men, there were 188,000 men rejected because they 
could not meet Uncle Sam’s dental requirement, six teeth 
above and six teeth below, opposing. During this time, I 
examined thirty-nine patients to determine if they should be 
accepted. Most of them were rejected—then Uncle Sam 
found out that if he stuck to his dental requirements he 
could not get an army, so he threw out all his dental re¬ 
quirements and took men if they had an upper and a lower 
jaw. That was necessary to get an army. 

“In World War I, Army dentists made practically no 
dentures. In World War II, the peak month for the Army 
dentists alone was 102,000 dentures. . . .” 

Instead of recognizing the damage that sugar and im¬ 
proper diet have done to the public’s teeth, the Govern¬ 
ment has latched onto this scourge as a wedge to force 
into the nation’s diet still another chemical—sodium fluor¬ 
ide, one of the most powerful poisons known. 

No Government agency ever warned about the danger 
of sugar or urged a reduced intake. This would step on the 
toes of a powerful commercial interest. To prevent tooth 
decay the public is harangued to fluoridate its water supply. 

The cavity-preventing qualities claimed for fluoridation 
are far from proved,' and its toxic side effects are virtually 
untested, especially on persons with metabolic ailments. 

Practically every community that has had access to the 
facts on fluoridation has rejected it. But frequently health 
officials, using Government funds, have rammed it down 
the throats of communities, citing misleading statistics 
about its benefits and false statements about its toxicity. 

This is not the place to go deeply into the controversial 
issue of fluoridation, but some pointed questions have been 
raised in Congress about the Public Health Service’s un¬ 
explained about-face to support the use of this chemical and 
the methods used to promote its use. 




THE SUGAR STORY 


169 


The reader should be aware that wherever fluorides are 
injected into the water supply, foods canned or otherwise 
processed there will have still another chemical added (in 
concentrated form, due to the cooking) to their composi¬ 
tion. 

As the cavity-causing properties of sugar led to fluorida¬ 
tion, its weight-producing effect has set the stage for an¬ 
other possible biological disaster. And once more the public 
is cast in the role of guinea pig. To reduce the caloric con¬ 
tent of soft drinks and some confections, manufacturers 
have been using the artificial sweetener cyclamate as a 
sugar substitute. 

Recent FDA studies, according to Medical World News 
(November 15, 1968) have shown that many humans who 
ingest cyclamates convert it in the body to cyclohexylamine 
—the latter produced chromosome breaks when fed to 
laboratory animals. It is pointed out that it isn’t known 
for certain what this means for humans. The FDA has 
been very cautious in making pronouncements or interpret¬ 
ing the findings. But a high FDA scientist was quoted as 
having said, “It’s a big one. This is potentially one of the 
biggest things we’ve had around here for a long time.” His 
words recall the thalidomide tragedy—how thousands of 
children were born with deformities after their mothers 
were given the drug during pregnancy. 

Medical World News also stated: “A prominent British 
government investigator who has been working closely 
with the FDA on cyclamate research said that he was sur¬ 
prised and ‘slightly amazed’ when told of the latest FDA 
findings on cyclohexylamine. . . . 

“Any effect on chromosomes is a major item,” said Dr. 
G. B. West of the British Industrial Biological Research 
Association, “and the low dose . . . discoveries of the FDA 
study are right in the danger zone. These findings should 
be borne in mind by everybody researching cyclamate.” 

Like other scientists, Dr. West was cautious about re¬ 
lating the FDA animal studies to man. But the article 
stated: 

“Meanwhile, in England, private-label foods containing 
the artificial sweetener cyclamate have been banned from 
the shelves of at least 27 department stores and 270 super¬ 
markets. The three major retail chains that own the stores 
said their restrictions are in part based on the results of 
two recent Ministry of Agriculture studies on the toxicity 


170 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


of the sweeteners. A spokesman for the retailers said that 
the government report raised enough doubt to justify their 
caution.” 

Meanwhile, as this book goes to press, the cyclamates 
are being used in the United States to sweeten oceans of 
soft drinks and mountains of desserts, and not only for 
calorie-reduction in dietary products—cyclamates are 
cheaper than sugar. 

11 

You Are What 
You Eat 


... it appears to me necessary to every physician 
to be skilled in nature, and to strive to know, if 
he would wish to perform his duties, what a man is 
in relation to the articles of food and drink, and 
to his other occupations, and what are the effects 
of each of them to every one. 

Whoever does not know what effect these things 
produce upon a man cannot know the conse¬ 
quences which result from them. 

Whoever pays no attention to these things, or 
paying attention, does not comprehend them, how 
can he understand the diseases which befall a man? 
For, by every one of these things a man is affected 
and charged this way and that, and the whole of 
his life is subjected to them, whether in health, 
convalescence, or disease. Nothing else, then, can 
be more important or more necessary to know than 
these things. 

—Hippocrates 

( 1 ) 


Despite the huge amount of evidence linking food di¬ 
rectly to human health, it is the exceptional doctor who 


YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT 


171 


ever bothers to ask his patients what they eat. Even more 
remarkable is the physician who is interested in how the 
food was grown and prepared. 

In the medical world the science of nutrition has been 
almost totally ignored, beyond the most elementary facts. 
Less than a half dozen medical schools even give special 
classes in the subject. 

At the same time, however, some of the most progressive 
medical researchers are learning to appreciate the scientific 
truth of the old saw, “You are what you eat.” 

This doctrine has touched off a bitter controversy. Medi¬ 
cal science traditionally has accepted disease and sickness 
as natural to living creatures. But in recent years a revolu¬ 
tionary theme has been preached by a hard core of re¬ 
searchers in nutrition. They hold that the birthright of all 
living creatures is health, and sickness and disease are per¬ 
versions of the natural condition. Further, they contend, 
proper nutrition is the key to health, and if people eat the 
right foods they will enjoy good health. 

Dr. Tom Spies made this provocative statement: “All 
diseases are caused by chemicals, and all diseases can be 
cured by chemicals. All the chemicals used by the body, 
except for the oyxgen which we breathe and the water 
which we drink, are taken in through food. If we only 
knew enough, all diseases could be prevented, and could 
be cured, through proper nutrition.” 

Dr. Spies made that comment upon receiving the Ameri¬ 
can Medical Association’s highest honor—the Distinguished 
Service Award—in 1957. 

As far back as 1952, at a meeting of the Southern 
Medical Association in Miami, he pleaded for a new con¬ 
cept in medicine. A New York Times dispatch noted that 
he made the point that “ ‘We are what we eat,’ which 
means that more attention ought to be paid to the chemistry 
of disease.” The article continued: 

We are chemically composed of the air we 
breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, is 
Dr. Spies’s guiding principle. . . . the 20 years of 
research that he and his group have carried on con¬ 
vince Dr. Spies that even diseases of the heart, 
cancer and the degenerative diseases are the result 
of chemical disturbances. . . . 

He is not content with the prevailing medical 


172 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


acceptance of the traditional view that as we age 
w T e must expect to lose strength, keenness of vision 
and alertness, and to look and act old. . . . 

As the thesis “Man is what he eats” becomes more widely 
accepted, there is increasing concern about the adverse 
effect on health caused by the adulteration of the food 
supply with chemicals and mechanical processing. 

The Medical Press , a well-known British journal for 
physicians, recently lashed out at the increasing use of 
chemical in foods by stating: “We have started down a 
long, steep slope of sophistication, processing, bedevilment 
—call it what you will—the end of which we cannot fore¬ 
see. Scarcely a single article of diet arrives on our tables 
unembellished by the technologist’s art.” 

It warned that unless the medical profession took a firm 
stand, “Expediency will continue to triumph over caution 
and common sense, and we may well be faced with irrevers¬ 
ible results ... we may well spend the next generation in 
medicine trying to unscramble the harm that has been done 
to the human organism by prevalent factory practices in 
preservation, processing, and sophistication of foods.” 

Another voice of protest was that of Sir Edw'ard Mel- 
lanby, the British investigator w r ho discovered the harmful 
effects of Agene. He objected to turning the bodies of mil¬ 
lions of human beings into so many chemical research 
laboratories. Dr. Mellanby noted that during the last fifty 
years there has been “an enormous and not readily ex¬ 
plicable increase” in the incidence of disease of the alimen¬ 
tary tract, particularly “a sudden and extraordinary' rise 
in appendicitis and peptic ulcer.” He added that there were 
still countries in the wrorld today in w'hich these diseases 
were almost or quite unknown. 

Probably the most dramatic proof of how* the body is 
affected by the quality of food ingested was furnished by 
still another British medical researcher, Major-General Sir 
Robert McCarrison, former chairman of the Post-Graduate 
Medical Education Committee in the University of Oxford 
and director of research on nutrition in India. 

As a member of the Indian Medical Service, Dr. Mc- 
Carrison’s duties included supervision of a people known as 
the Hunzas, in nothem India He was amazed by the re¬ 
markable health and vitality of these people. Many' of them 




YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT 


173 


did physical work in their eighties and nineties and often 
lived to be over a hundred. 

Dr. McCarrison later noted that in seven years he spent 
with the Hunzas “I never saw a case of asthenic dyspepsia, 
of gastric or duodenal ulcer, or appendicitis, of mucous 
colitis, of cancer. . . . Among these people the abdomen 
oversensitive to nerve impressions, to fatigue, anxiety, or 
cold was unknown. Indeed their buoyant abdominal health 
has, since my return to the West, provided a remarkable 
contrast with the dyspeptic and colonic lamentations of our 
highly civilized communities.” 

Dr. McCarrison puzzled over why the Hunzas should 
have enjoyed health so superior to that of their dyspeptic 
neighbors. The only difference he could find was in their 
diet. The Hunzas practiced a Spartan form of agriculture, 
returning all organic matter to the soil. Their food consisted 
chiefly of whole grains, raw fruits, vegetables, milk products 
from goats, and occasionally a small portion of meat. 
Neighboring villages were addicted to white man’s foods. 

To test his theory that foods made the difference, Dr. 
McCarrison began his historic feeding experiments. 

Some rats were fed the identical diet of the Hunzas, 
while other rats were fed the food of less healthy Indian 
people. The results startlecj even Dr. McCarrison. In every 
case, the average health standard of the people whose diet 
was fed to the rats was mirrored in the health of the ani¬ 
mals, including the percentage of specific diseases, and 
even mental condition and temper. 

The rats that ate the diet of the Hunzas had the same 
astonishing health, vitality and gentle tempers; the animals 
grew rapidly, were never ill, had healthy offspring, and 
autopsy (at the age equivalent of fifty in a man) revealed 
virtually nothing wrong with their organs. 

In subsequent experiments Dr. McCarrison removed 
essential components of a complete diet and was able to 
produce variations in disease—the same diseases from 
which humans tend to suffer. During the course of his ex¬ 
periments on some 2,243 rats fed on faulty Indian diets, 
he found and listed diseases of every organ of the body. 

Among the ailments they suffered were diseases of the 
respiratory system, adenoids, pneumonia, bronchitis, pleu¬ 
risy, pyothorax and infections of the nose; infections of the 
ear; infections of the eye; dilated stomach, growths, ulcer 
and cancer of the stomach, inflammation of the small and 




174 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


large gut; constipation and diarrhea; diseases of the urinary 
passage, such as Bright’s disease, stones, abscesses, inflam¬ 
mation of the bladder; inflammation of the womb and 
ovaries, death of the fetus, premature birth, hemorrhage; 
diseases of the testicles; inflamm ation of the skin, loss of 
hair, ulcers, abscesses, gangrene of the feet and tail; anem¬ 
ias of the blood; enlarged lymphatic glands, cystic and sup¬ 
purating glands; goiter and diseases of the special glands; 
wasting, enlargement of, and inflammation of the muscle, 
and inflammation of the outer lining of the heart; inflam¬ 
mation and degeneration of the nervous tissues, diseased 
teeth and bones; dropsy; scurvy; feeble growth, feeble 
appetite, weakness, lassitude, and ill temper. 

“All these conditions,” said Dr. McCarrison, “these states 
of ill health, had a common causation: faulty nutrition 
with or without infection.” 

Dr. McCarrison continued: 

“I found that when young, growing rats of healthy stock 
were fed on diets similar to those of people whose physique 
was good, the physique and health of the rats were good; 
when they were fed on diets similar to those of people 
whose physique ^yas bad, the physique and health of the 
rats were bad; and when they were fed on diets similar to 
those of people whose physiques were middling, the 
physique and health of the rats were middling.” 

As early as 1921 Dr. McCarrison wrote his classic 
Studies of Deficiency Diseases, which he said provided 
experimental evidence that “appeared to me to warrant 
the conclusion that food of improper constitution” was 
responsible for a large proportion of ill health in Great 
Britain. 

In addition to lowering the standards of physical effi¬ 
ciency, Dr. McCarrison said, food which was faulty with 
respect to suitable proteins, minerals and vitamins—or all 
three—gave rise to many minor manifestations of ill health 
which defy a diagnostic label. 

He pointed out that some of the conditions brought about 
by faulty foods were so subtle that they might not be 
noticed. But they would be present, he warned, perhaps 
disturbing the functions of the various organs and tissues 
of the body, and each alteration would contribute to im¬ 
paired well-being. 

Dr. McCarrison said that symptoms of subnormal health 




YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT 


175 


are common enough in human beings, but since they con¬ 
form to no stereotyped disease, have no microbe nor any 
toxin associated with them, and cannot be accounted for 
by any laboratory tests applied to them, “we are apt to 
find nothing wrong with sufferers from them and to mis¬ 
take their malnutrition meaning.” 

He said he emphasized these minor manifestations of 
malnutrition because they represent the beginnings of dis¬ 
ease, “and their recognition is, to my way of thinking, 
vastly more important than that of the wreckages of health, 
which even the man in the street can see, though his name 
for them may be less sonorous than our own.” 

Dr. McCarrison’s experiments in nutrition have been 
famous in Europe and Asia for many years. In the United 
States they are hardly known; most doctors are not ac¬ 
quainted with them, and the FDA apparently never heard 
of them. 

As recently as 1949, the late Dr. Elmer M. Nelson, in 
charge of nutrition for the FDA, testified in a court hear¬ 
ing: 


It is wholly unscientific to state that a well-fed 
body is more able to resist disease than a less well- 
fed body. My over-all opinion is that there hasn’t 
been enough experimentation to prove dietary de¬ 
ficiencies make one more susceptible to disease 
[Washington Post, October 26, 1949]* 

Ten years earlier, according to Dr. Royal Lee of the Lee 
Foundation for Nutritional Research, Dr. Nelson “with his 
group of experts, testified in a similar court hearing that 
neither degenerative disease, infectious disease, nor func¬ 
tional disease could result from any nutritional deficiency.” 
Dr. Lee continued: 

“For all these years, he has battled for the maker of de¬ 
vitalized foods, tried to stem the tide of public opinion 
against the use of white flour, refined sugar, pasteurized 
milk, and imitation butter by vigorous prosecution of any 
maker of any dietary supplement designed to abate the 
consequences of using such devitalized foods, basing his 
arguments on the thesis that there were no such things as 
deficiency diseases.” 

In addition to having overlooked the studies of Dr. Mc- 
Carrison, Dr. Nelson apparently also overlooked the find- 



176 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


ings of Dr. Weston Price, an American dentist who amassed 
a tremendous volume of evidence to demonstrate what hap¬ 
pens when primitive people adopt the white man’s diet 

In a foreword to Dr. Price’s book Nutrition and Physical 
Degeneration, the late Dr. Earnest A. Hooton, Harvard’s 
famous anthropologist, paid tribute to Dr. Price with the 
comment that “really gifted scientists are those who can 
appreciate the obvious.” Dr. Hooton also made this pithy 
comment: “Let us cease pretending that toothbrushes and 
tooth paste are more important than shoe brushes and shoe 
polish. It is store food which has given us store teeth.” 

It has long been known that primitive people, prior to 
their contacts with civilization, had excellent teeth. It also 
has been established that teeth are a valuable indicator of 
general physical condition: excellent teeth and excellent 
general physique go hand in hand. Unfortunately, the con¬ 
verse of this is also true. 

While his colleagues were experimenting with new 
methods for controlling dental caries, Dr. Price was con¬ 
ducting research to learn why the primitive had such good 
teeth, and how this knowledge could benefit his civilized 
brother. 

He investigated groups all over the world: in the Swiss 
Alps, New Hebrides, Australia, Alaska and South America, 
among others. The climates, people and even the diets 
varied, but all shared one thing—excellent nutrition. These 
people, drawing from the sources nature provided, in¬ 
stinctively supplied all their body needs—just as did the 
Hunzas. 

Through laboratory analysis, Dr. Price discovered that 
although the foods varied according to the area, the total 
intake of vitamins and minerals was nearly identical. These 
admirable physical specimens possessed unbelievable en¬ 
durance, and cheerful, even dispositions; their jaws were 
wide and well developed, and their teeth stayed free from 
decay, just as their bodies remained free of disease. Cancer, 
tuberculosis, high blood pressure, kidney and heart diseases, 
polio, cerebral palsy and other degenerative diseases were 
non-existent. Every mother nursed her baby; a nonfunc¬ 
tional breast was unheard of. Mental health was as high 
as physical health. 

In every instance Dr. Price was able to compare his 
people with people living nearby of the same racial stock; 
sometimes the healthy specimens could be compared to 




YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT 


177 


their offspring who had been exposed to the city man’s 
diet of white flour, refined sugar and canned foods. The 
deterioration that had resulted was pitiful and obvious: 
faulty bone structure, crooked teeth, extreme tooth decay, 
high incidence of disease. Cancer was rampant among the 
very tribes that had stayed cancer-free on their native diets. 

In both his observations on these people and through 
animal experiments, Dr. Price was able to demonstrate the 
devastating effects of bad nutrition, not only on the present 
generation but also—far worse—on their offspring. His 
book has scores of pictures testifying to the destructive 
results from the white man’s processed foods. 

Dr. Price urged a return to harmony with nature by 
choosing foods in their natural state: whole grains, sea 
food, dairy products and vegetables, all untampered with 
by man. He also recommended organ meats. Dr. Price gives 
this warning: 

“.. . we cannot distort and rob . . . foods without serious 
injury. Nature has put these foods up in packages con¬ 
taining the combinations of minerals and other factors that 
are essential for nourishing the various organs. . . . Our 
modern process of robbing the natural foods for conveni¬ 
ence or gain completely thwarts Nature’s inviolable pro¬ 
gram . . . the robbing of the wheat in the making of white 
flour reduced the minerals and other chemicals in the 
grains, so as to make them sources of energy without 
normal body-building and repairing qualities. Our appetites 
have been distorted so that hunger appeals only for energy 
with no conscious need for body-building and repairing 
chemicals.” 

Still another outspoken critic of processed foods is Dr. 
H. M. Sinclair, an Englishman who is a leading nutritional 
authority. He has specialized in nutrition since his days as 
a medical student when he became convinced that “what 
was and is perhaps the most serious problem in medicine 
arose from alterations in our diet from the processing and 
sophistication of foods.” 

Dr. Sinclair, head of the Laboratory of Human Nutrition 
and vice president of Magdalen College at Oxford Univers¬ 
ity, repeatedly has warned about the danger of processed 
foods and their relationship to the degenerative diseases, 
especially in their less obvious forms. He recalled that 
former Surgeon-General Thomas Parran, of the United 
States, once said that “like an iceberg, nine tenths of the 




178 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


effects of our malnutrition—and the most dangerous part— 
lies under the surface. One tenth is obviously and easily 
detected.” 

In a 1957 World Health Day address, later reprinted iij 
the British Medical Journal (December 14, 1957) Dr. 
Sinclair recalled that in his days as a medical student “my 
clinical teachers could not answer why the expectation of 
life in this country of the middle-aged man is hardly differ¬ 
ent from what it was at the beginning of this century or 
even a century ago. 

“That means that despite the great advances in medicine 
—pneumonia almost abolished, tuberculosis comparatively 
rare, the magnificent advances in surgery, endocrinology, 
and public health—a middle-aged man cannot expect to 
live more than four years longer than he could a century 
ago—and indeed in Scotland the expectation of life is now 
actually decreasing.” 

Dr. Sinclair said falure to increase man’s life span was 
due to the “dramatic increase ’ of certain chronic degener¬ 
ative diseases, which he blamed in large measure on food 
processing, with special emphasis on the destruction of 
certain vitamins. 

Another telling indictment linking food to health was 
furnished by the “Medical Testament”—a document issued 
in 1939 by a panel of doctors in County Cheshire, England, 
who took a long, hard look at disease as both cause and 
effect. The Local Medical and Panel Committee of Che¬ 
shire (known for its cheeses and grinning cats), represent¬ 
ing 600 family doctors, appraised its success under the 
National Health Insurance Act in fulfilling the dual object 
of “the prevention and cure of sickness.” The testament 
concluded: 

“Our daily work brings us repeatedly to the same point: 
This illness results from a life-time of wrong nutrition.” 

These doctors also noted that many primitive peoples 
remained healthy and free from disease on varied diets. 
They said that to spell out factors common to all these 
diets was difficult and an attempt to do so might be mis¬ 
leading, since knowledge of what those factors are was still 
far from complete. “But this at least may be said, that the 
food is, for the most part, fresh from its source, little 
altered by preparation, and complete.” 

The document added that in order for people to be 





YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT 


179 


healthy there should be “no chemical or substitution stage” 
in food between soil and table. 

Warnings about inadequate foods and deficiency diseases 
are not likely to be taken seriously by Americans because 
they have been so thoroughly indoctrinated in the belief 
that they are the best fed people in the world—a claim that 
has validity only if no distinction is made between quantity 
and quality. We are long on quantity, short on quality. 

It will be recalled from Chapter IX that Dr. Tom Spies 
noted that the margin of safety against deficiency diseases 
in this country is narrow, that nutritional inadequacy is 
widespread and not limited to the lower economic groups. 

This observation has been confirmed by many other 
nutritionists. Dr. Granville F. Knight, former president of 
the American Academy of Nutrition, observed that today 
good health is far from being the rule in America. “We are 
dealing with many nutritional cripples,” he stated. “In¬ 
adequate food intake over several generations may help to 
explain not only the widespread incidence of allergy and 
dental caries, but the frequency of many other degenera¬ 
tive conditions as well.” 


( 2 ) 

In any discussion of the relationship between food and 
health, it is necessary to mention briefly the way foods are 
grown. This is an extremely controversial subject, but there 
is growing evidence that much of the poor health Ameri¬ 
cans and other highly industrialized people suffer may be 
caused by the way their foods are grown, as well as by 
the processing. 

Despite the evidence, the FDA and the AMA have joined 
hands with commercial interests in a concerted campaign 
to attack this view. The AMA magazine for laymen, 
Today’s Health (September, 1958), stated: “Extensive 
research conducted by the Federal Government has shown 
that the nutritional value of crops is not affected by the soil 
or the fertilizers used.” Dr. Elmer Nelson of the FDA was 
reported in the article as saying that unless the necessary 
soil elements were present, crops would not grow or pro¬ 
duce. “Thus,” said Dr. Nelson, “the quality of the soil on 
which food is grown has a definite effect on the quantity 
of the crop, but very little on its quality.” 

It has been easy to convince people that one food 




180 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


product is just as good as another because both probably 
look the same. But there can be a vast difference in the 
nutritional content of two similar products; they can differ 
in minerals, vitamins and perhaps other qualities not even 
identified at this time. 

Many years ago Dr. Carrel pointed out that food still 
looks like it always did but it no longer contains the nu¬ 
tritive qualities it formerly did. “Mass production,” he 
stated, “has modified the composition of wheat, eggs, milk, 
fruit, and butter, although these articles have retained their 
familiar appearance.” 

He added: “Chemical fertilizers, by increasing the abun¬ 
dance of the crops without replacing all the exhausted 
elements of the soil, have indirectly contributed to change 
the nutritive value of cereal grains and of vegetables. Hens 
have been compelled, by artificial diet and mode of living, 
to enter the ranks of mass producers. Has not the quality of 
their eggs been modified? The same question may be asked 
about milk, because cows are now confined to the stable 
all the year round, and are fed on manufactured provender. 

“Hygienists have not paid sufficient attention to the 
genesis of diseases. Their studies of conditions of life and 
diet, and of their effects on the physiological and mental 
state of modern man, are superficial, incomplete, and of 
too short duration. . . .” 

The claim that soil has virtually no effect on the nutri¬ 
tional value of crops has been so thoroughly disproved that 
it is hardly worthy of serious consideration. Josue de 
Castro, chairman of the Executive Council, Food and 
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, notes that 
it has been demonstrated that “the proportion of iron in 
lettuce varied from 1 to 50 milligrams per hundred, ac¬ 
cording to soil conditions.” 

The Middle West is known as a goiter belt because of 
the widespread deficiency of iodine in the soil, a condition 
that is remedied by adding iodine to salt. 

Further proof is provided by a U. S. Department of 
Agriculture publication (No. 369). It states that many 
cities are located near truck farms with deficient soils, and 
“large quantities of truck crops and fruits are shipped to 
these cities from the localities where nutritional disorders 
due to mineral deficiencies in the soils have been noted in 
both humans and animals. Although many factors othei 
than the poor quality of food probably are responsible for 




YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT 


181 


dietary difficulties, this factor is believed to be an im¬ 
portant one.” 

Probably the most revolutionary studies on the soil and 
the implications it holds for human health were done by 
the late Sir Albert Howard early in this century. He was 
knighted for his contributions to formal agricultural prac¬ 
tices and honored by his British colleagues, but when he 
began his original experiments he was treated as an outcast. 

While serving as an agricultural aide in India, he began 
to ponder why modem farming had to depend on artificial 
fertilizers, powerful sprays and other chemical parapherna¬ 
lia to grow crops, when the natives were able to grow crops 
without chemicals, and had been doing so for thousands 
of years. 

He studied the natives’ methods and concluded that the 
secret was fertile soil, and the key to fertile soil was to 
return to the earth all living matter. This became known as 
the compost or organic method of farming. 

Sir Albert’s experiments convinced him that fertile soil 
contained elements that defied chemical analysis, but that 
they conferred immunity to disease and insect attack to 
plants grown in such soil—a finding made several decades 
before medical researchers isolated from the earth anti¬ 
biotics which were to become famed for their incredible 
ability to kill infections. 

Sir Albert’s advocacy of natural farming methods posed 
a direct threat to the chemical industry and traditional 
farming methods based on the use of chemicals, and lead 
to sharp attacks on other advocates of organic methods 
The latter were equally critical of chemical farming, point¬ 
ing out that chemical fertilizer (NPK) consists of just three 
major soil elements: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. 
When only these three components are put in the earth 
they stimulate growth but deplete the soil of its vital trace 
elements and organic matter, turning it into crusted haid- 
pan, subject to wind and water erosion. This has been 
called “mining the soil.” 

Sir Albert was convinced that it was the missing trace 
minerals that were responsible for most animal and human 
health. He held that the chain of health was: fertile soil— 
healthy plant—healthy animal—healthy human. 

To test his theory he conducted animal-fcoding tests 
Oxen were fed organically grown crops until they were in 
fine fettle and then exposed to animals infected with hoof- 


182 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


and-mouth disease, an illness ordinarily considered highly 
contagious. 

“Nothing happened,” he stated. “The healthy well-fed 
animals reacted to this disease exactly as suitable varieties 
of crops, when properly grown, did to insect and fungous 
pests—no infection took place.” 

Sir Albert’s findings were later confirmed by many other 
tests. Crops were grown without the use of poisonous 
sprays or other chemical aids, and in many cases a nim als 
suffering from ailm ents ordinarily considered incurable by 
medical treatment were returned to full health by being fed 
organically grown crops. 

Several researchers compared crops grown chemically 
with organically grown crops and reported that the latter 
had more vitamin and mineral content. Several feeding 
experiments with people have produced some remarkable 
results. Dr. Lionel Picton, under whose leadership the 
“Medical Testament” was written, related in his book 
Nutrition and the Soil that a Mr. Brodie Carpenter, upon 
taking up his duties as resident dental officer in an English 
boarding school, found the children’s teeth in deplorable 
condition. Gradually the incidence of cavities dropped 
remarkably and the children showed an equally marked 
improvement in general health. 

In 1939, the year of Mr. Carpenter’s arrival, only 50 
per cent of the children had no cavities, 32 per cent had 
3 to 5, and 18 per cent had 6 or more. Within six years 
the respective percentages had jumped to 97, 3 and 0. Mr. 
Carpenter checked with the headmaster, to learn that a new 
gardener and matron had been hired in 1939. The gardener 
didn’t believe in artificial manures, and had started growing 
all the vegetables with humus, and the matron believed in 
serving fresh salads. 

An example nearer home is provided by Walter E. Clark, 
director of North Country School at Lake Placid, New 
York, which has a student body of fifty boys and girls. Mr. 
Clark said that after the school converted to natural grow¬ 
ing methods, in 1948, the children showed a remarkable 
increase in health and decrease in tooth decay. 

(3) 

One of the foremost champions in this country of the 
soil as the basis for health has been Dr. William A. Al- 






YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT 


183 


brecht, professor emeritus and formerly chairman of the 
Department of Soils at the University of Missouri College 
of Agriculture, and an international authority in his 
specialty. 

Dr. Albrecht has repeatedly warned that the nation’s 
soil fertility is sinking to a dangerously low level. He has 
repeatedly cautioned that this imperils the nation’s health 
because the fertility of the soil determines the amount of 
protein that goes into crops. In the last ten years, he said, 
the protein content of com has dropped ten per cent. 

Dr. Albrecht has warned that “it has not yet been recog¬ 
nized that a soil may be speedily exploited of its protein- 
producing power while its capacity for delivery of carbo¬ 
hydrate bulk holds on long afterward. 

“We have moved more and more to those plants which 
let them build up the vegetative bulk, carbohydrate, lets 
them fill themselves with starch instead of protein, and 
the human diet has come down. . . .” 

The tremendous volume of crops and farm products 
which is being rolled out today is produced primarily at the 
cost of soil fertility, Dr. Albrecht notes. He said that 70 per 
cent of the production of major crops represents exploita¬ 
tion and only 30 per cent results from fertility applied to 
the soil. 

He said he is not so much concerned with bushels and 
tons of food produced as with “whether feed and food have 
nutritional value of a complete order rather than fattening 
value, which is so easily produced on almost any soil.” 
[Emphasis the author’s.] 

This is in direct conflict with the Government’s standard 
of quantity as the measure of successful agriculture. Its 
only criterion is the amount produced: the number of 
bushels per acre, the gallons of milk per cow, the number 
of cattle shipped to market. To achieve today’s massive 
farm output many agricultural tricks are used; the earth 
is being soaked with massive shots of chemical fertilizers, 
hormone preparations and other chemical growth aids. 
Crops have to be juggled. Hybrid seeds are used. When 
insects and plant diseases inevitably appear, they are blast¬ 
ed with poisons, antibiotics and other test-tube preparations. 
Then the harvest of poisoned and nutritionally inferior 
crops is preserved with the host of additives already dis¬ 
cussed. 

Dr. Albrecht has emphasized that production of huge 



184 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


crops is not proof of soil fertility; rather it represents ex¬ 
ploitation of the earth’s nutrients. He says “we must soon 
face the dilemma of feeding ourselves on paved streets, 
because the rural community is about to be the dead victim 
of a parasitic, technical soil exploitation that has failed to 
appreciate the biological aspect of the soils in the creative 
business of feeding all of us.” 

Turning to the problem of disease, he noted that protec¬ 
tion begins in the soil where the “lowly microbes” produce 
antibiotics which are moved up through plants, to animals 
and to man at the top of the “biotic pyramid.” Instead of 
poisonous sprays to protect plants, he advocates restoring 
fertility to the soil. 

In experiments at the University of Missouri it was dem¬ 
onstrated that by increasing soil fertility it was possible to 
give plants 100 per cent protection from insects, without 
use of sprays. At the same time, adjacent plants, suffering 
from infertile soils, had 100 per cent attack. 

Dr. Albrecht testified before the Delaney Committee that 
“using spinach, we had two rows of bugs, then no bugs, 
two rows of bugs, then no bugs. Not because we sprayed 
but because we got a different condition in the soil un¬ 
der it.” 

lust as correcting soil deficiencies gave plants protec¬ 
tion from insects, supplying trace elements that were lack¬ 
ing in the diets of people and cattle suffering from Brucella 
infections helped them to recover. The experiments were 
conducted by Dr. Albrecht, in conjunction with Dr. Francis 
M. Pottenger, Jr., and Dr. Ira Allison. 

Cows suffering from Brucella infection (called undulant 
fever in man) were found to lack in their tissues certain 
trace minerals present in healthy cows. Brucella disease is 
considered highly contagious in cows, and its victims 
usually are slaughtered. But when cattle were fed the 
elements in which they had been deficient, they recovered, 
became immune to the disease and reproduced calves. 

Some 1,800 human patients then were given the trace 
elements fed to the deficient cattle. The majority reportedly 
were relieved of their symptoms in three to six months. 
The report stated that, typical of the type of symptom in 
many deficiency diseases, the patients initially complained 
of such varying symptoms “as to be too baffling for ac¬ 
curate diagnosis.” Among the symptoms were aching back, 
shoulders and joints; allergies, arthritis, anorexia, fever, 



YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT 


185 


constipation, enlarged spleen, mental depression and up to 
two hundred others. 

“Very significant,” stated the report, “was the observa¬ 
tion that almost every patient’s previous dietary habits in¬ 
dicated possible malnutrition long before symptoms of 
brucellosis or other conditions inviting the physician’s at¬ 
tention had ever appeared. . . .” 

In other experiments reported by Dr. Albrecht it was 
demonstrated that soils and proteins can control animal 
reproduction. Lambs and rabbits were made potent or im¬ 
potent, sexually eager or reluctant, at the researcher’s will, 
merely by feeding them crops grown on soil that was fertile 
or deficient in certain trace elements. The soil was so sensi¬ 
tive to the elements that went into it that its fertility was 
reflected even by the health of the animals providing the 
manure used as fertilizer. 

As the link between the soil and human health becomes 
stronger, more researchers are seriously leaning toward the 
view of Dr. Spies that all sickness has its roots in malnutri¬ 
tion, and as more is learned about the makeup of foods it 
will be possible to prevent and cure disease merely by cor¬ 
recting dietary errors. 

Dr. Albrecht pursued this hypothesis when he said, “Isn’t 
it good nutrition that is used as the ‘cure’ for human tuber¬ 
culosis?” He continued with these provocative words: 

“While it has long been common belief that disease is 
an infliction visited upon us from without, there is a 
growing recognition of its possible origin from within be¬ 
cause of deficiencies and failure to nourish ourselves com¬ 
pletely. Fuller knowledge of nutrition is revealing mount¬ 
ing numbers of cases of deficiency diseases. 

“These deficiencies need to be traced, not only to the 
supplies in the food and feed market where the family 
budget may provoke them, but a bit further, and closer to 
their origin, namely the fertility of the soil, the point at 
which all agricultural production takes off. These increas¬ 
ing cases classified as deficiencies are bolstering the truth 
of the old adage which told us that ‘to be well fed is to be 
healthy.’ ” 




12 

The Law 
That Poes Not 
Protect 

(i) 

After six years of futile effort to change the pure food 
law, the 1958 amendment finally was passed by both 
houses of Congress in the final frantic moments of the 
85th Congress and signed into law by President Eisen¬ 
hower on September 6 of that year. 

The law as amended is primarily a measure designed 
to accommodate industry and protect profits rather than 
consumers. 

The basic immediate benefit the new law gave the pub¬ 
lic was that from then on chemicals must be tested before 
they could be used in foods. At the same time, it permits 
in foods the use of poisons that were barred by the former 
bill, under a tolerance concept similar to that provided 
by the Miller Pesticide Act. This means it is now possible 
for unlimited numbers of poisons to be injected into foods. 
Instead of the hundreds now being used, there may be 
thousands. 

Under the old law no harmful substance was supposed 
to be used in food, but to remove such substances FDA 
first had to detect them and prove harm. This law, barring 
the use of all poisons, was known as the “per se rule.” 
The intent of Congress in 1938 in passing the per se rule 
was unmistakable; it wanted to strengthen the food law by 
eliminating existing loopholes that permitted the use of 
certain poisons. The only exceptions Congress provided 
were for poisons that were “necessary” or “unavoidable” 
in the production of foods—a test that authorities said 


186 




THE LAW THAT DOES NOT PROTECT 


187 


was met only by the pesticides. All other poisons were 
illegal per se. 

But the FDA and some courts refused to enforce this 
rule, accepting industry’s argument that when poisons 
were used in small enough amounts they ceased to be 
poisons. Congress made no provision to permit poisons 
in foods under such conditions; this was an interpretation 
to benefit industry, and the FDA held that a new law was 
necessary so it could control the amount of such sub¬ 
stances used. Instead of enforcing the law as it was 
written, the FDA worked vigorously to change the law to 
accommodate industry. 

The crux of the new legislation was the relaxation of 
the ban on poisons. Any poison may be used now, if a 
dose can be found that apparently is not harmful to some 
animals. Such substances need not even be useful to con¬ 
sumers; it is enough if they are useful to industry. 

Consumer groups protested that if certain additives did 
have to be used, they should not only have to be proved 
safe but also to benefit the consumer. This stand was 
backed by the National Research Council and the Ameri¬ 
can Public Health Association’s Food and Nutrition Sec¬ 
tion. They agreed that since there could be no absolute 
assurance that any given dose of a poison was completely 
safe for humans, there should at least be some benefit for 
those forced to take the risk. Industry hotly protested it 
was nobody’s business who benefited as long as the addi¬ 
tive was shown to be “harmless.” Industry’s proposal, 
these organizations pointed out, would permit replace¬ 
ment of nutrients with chemicals whose only value to con¬ 
sumers was that they apparently would not harm a rat or 
mouse. 

Omission of a clear usefulness-to-consumers clause, ob¬ 
jected Dr. William E. Smith, would “open the flood gates 
to legalize adulteration of foods on an unprecedented 
scale.” In other words, he said, industry was willing to 
agree to the pretesting of additives for safety, but in 
exchange it would convert the pretesting arrangement into 
a device for adulterating food with anything from plastic 
to glue. “This seems a large price for consumers to pay 
for the much-needed pretesting arrangement long sought 
by FDA,” he said. 

Dr. Smith also questioned the wisdom of diverting huge 
sums of money and scientific energy to testing innumcr- 



188 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


able nonnutritive chemicals for safety when fundamental 
questions about nutrition remained to be solved. The con¬ 
sumer, he said, needs food for life and health, not pro¬ 
testations that he is paying his money for nonnourishing 
substances that some one else thinks will probably not 
harm him. 

He then warned: “It is to our peril if the human 
digestive tract is legislated into the role of a sewer for 
disposal of chemicals that afford only commercial ad¬ 
vantage.” 

The FDA supported the use of unlimited numbers of 
poisons in foods under a tolerance concept, but stated that 
such substances must have “functional value.” This cloudy 
phrase subsequently was explained by the then FDA Com¬ 
missioner George Larrick to mean that the chemical must 
be useful to somebody—either the consumer or industry. 
Presumably this clause was intended to keep chemicals 
from being tossed into foods as adulterants merely to re¬ 
place more expensive nutrients or stretch products further; 
but even chemicals that served no better purpose than this 
would undeniably be useful to industry by increasing profits. 
It always could be claimed that the saving was passed along 
to the public. 

Testifying before a Congressional committee, Commis¬ 
sioner Larrick gave an example of what “functional value” 
meant to him: 

“For instance,” he said, “we had a man walk in not long 
ago who was a bottler of grape juice. He said that in 
bottling grape juice the process is very slow because as the 
juice comes down the automatic fillers it foams, and they 
have to stop and they cannot fill bottles fast. By adding a 
tremendously minute amount of a chemical called a silicone 
they can stop that foaming altogether and they can do a 
more efficient manufacturing job. I think the saving they 
make in that connection is passed on to the consumer and 
serves a useful purpose.” 

Curiously, even while the FDA supported overthrow of 
the legal ban on poisons, Commissioner Larrick warned: 
“There is always a residual risk in permitting use of even 
small quantities of poisons in foods to be consumed by the 
young, the old, the sick and the well. . . .” 

He also warned that while analytical techniques have im¬ 
proved over the years, and it is possible to measure in 
fractions of a part per million, even this is not the whole 




THE LAW THAT DOES NOT PROTECT 


189 


picture, “since testing methods are lacking for many of 
the complex new chemicals which are being used today 
in and around food materials and products.” 

The onslaught of poisons that can be expected in foods 
under the new law was suggested by Mr. Larrick when he 
said that under the tolerance concept there is “virtually 
no limit to the expanding list of chemicals that may find 
their way into our food supply.” 

Behind the FDA’s paradoxical support of the same risk 
it warned against was the agency’s conflict between its 
obligation to consumers and its loyalty to industry. The 
FDA wanted the pretesting requirement to protect both 
industry and the public. Like enlightened food executives, 
FDA officials realized that if some overzealous processor 
used too much poison and caused wholesale deaths there 
would be a public outcry that undoubtedly would lead to 
severe legal restrictions. At the same time, the FDA saw 
that by relaxing the ban on the use of poisons it would be 
relieved of the embarrassment it suffered in permitting 
their use in violation of the law. 

The two provisions—pretesting and the tolerance con¬ 
cept—fitted together as if made for one another. Testing 
a chemical would cost up to $50,000, but if the substance 
turned out to be poisonous, the money need not be wasted; 
it still could be used in “safe” quantities in foods under 
the tolerance concept. 

To pave the way for the change in the law, the FDA and 
industry scientists preached their strange doctrine about 
the alleged harmlessness of small amounts of poison. Com¬ 
mon sense and scientific reason alike were ignored. The 
scientists bypassed the fact that these “small quantities” 
were going to be consumed in tremendous numbers. 

What this means to the public is graphically illustrated 
by the fact that from 1940 to 1956 some 25,000 chemicals 
were considered for use in foods, according to Public 
Health Reports. Presumably any or all of these can be used 
in foods now if a dose is found that does not produce 
apparent injury in laboratory animals and if the proposed 
additive meets the FDA’s vague test of “functional value.” 

While the new law does not contain the nebulous phrase, 
“functional value,” its effect remains; it requires the FDA 
to fix tolerances for any poisons its experts say arc “safe.” 
The only restrictions are that the chemical must accomplish 
its intended physical or other technical effect; that no more 


190 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


of the substance can be used than is necessary to accomplish 
the intended effect, and that it cannot be used to promote 
a deception of the consumer. 

Not even this limited protection is afforded the public 
from substances believed to be “harmless.” The FDA con¬ 
sidered it “none of its business” what use is made of non- 
poisonous chemicals, according to William W. Goodrich, 
assistant general counsel for the FDA. If industry wants to 
replace the shortening in prepared pie crust with plastic or 
glue, the FDA will not object—as long as the stuff has not 
been shown to be poisonous. 

A feature of the new law is that the FDA is empowered 
to require the testing of any additive already in use when 
the measure was passed, if the substance is not generally 
recognized by experts as having been “adequately shown 
through scientific procedures ... to be safe under the con¬ 
ditions of its intended use.” 

The statute exempts from testing all chemicals recognized 
by experts as “safe.” It also exempts pesticides used on raw 
agricultural products and chemicals approved for use under 
the Meat Inspection Act, as well as certain other ones. 
These exemptions are made under what is known as a 
grandfather clause. 

The law, instead of requiring suspect chemicals with¬ 
drawn until tested and proved harmless, permits them to 
remain in use while they are being tested over a 30-month 
period. Representative Leonor K. Sullivan of St. Louis 
noted that past experience showed that there also were 
likely to be additional extensions granted. 

The third major provision in the new law is an anti¬ 
carcinogen clause. This provision, of manifest value to con¬ 
sumers, should have offended no one except commercial 
promoters of questionable food-chemicals; but the big 
chemical interests have highly skilled and highly paid con¬ 
sultants who can “explain” many things and “educate” 
many people. This clause was dragged in by its heels at the 
last moment. Despite continuous agitation by some of the 
leading cancer experts for such protection, the FDA fought 
vigorously to keep an anticarcinogen provision out of the 
law. Only after Representative Delaney threatened to block 
the FDA bill from coming to a vote, through his post on 
the powerful House Rules Committee, did the FDA re¬ 
luctantly agree to include it. 

Various cancer experts and consumer groups urged that 



THE LAW THAT DOES NOT PROTECT 


191 


the law not only bar all carcinogens but also require all 
additives to be tested for cancer-causing properties. Dr. 
Smith pointed out that without such tests there would be 
little point in merely prohibiting carcinogens. 

The measure that became the law states: 

... no additive shall be deemed to be safe 
if it is found to induce cancer when ingested by 
man or animal, or if it is found, after tests which 
are appropriate for the evaluation of the safety 
of food additives, to induce cancer in man or 
animal. . . . 

This provision rules out any chemical proved to cause 
cancer in man or animal when eaten. It does not exclude 
chemicals that cause cancer in animals by other routes of 
administration than mouth, and leaves the evaluation of 
such carcinogens and whether they will be used in food 
up to the FDA. Pesticides and chemicals covered under the 
Meat Inspection Act are not even subject to the limited 
protection of the cancer law because of the grandfather 
clause excluding them from its coverage. 

The new law also does not call for specific tests to show 
whether chemicals already in use, or proposed for use, 
have cancer-causing properties. 

The FDA opposed making such tests mandatory. Com¬ 
missioner Larrick testified that he saw no more reason to 
single out cancer production for specific mention in the 
legislation than to single out production of a host of other 
infirmities. He said no additive would be permitted in food 
unless shown not to produce cancer in man. He did not 
explain h'ow he proposed to accomplish this, in the absence 
of tests to find out if new additives would cause cancer. 

By opposing a requirement to test chemicals for cancer, 
Commissioner Larrick spared chemical companies the cost 
of doing the tests and weakened the anti-carcinogen pro¬ 
vision. How a carcinogen, distributed to the public in food, 
could ever be proved harmful to man was not explained; 
once a carcinogen is in the general food supply how could 
it be traced statistically as a cause of cancer in man? 

In the absence of specific cancer tests, the only chance 
of catching a carcinogen is by stumbling on it in other re¬ 
search—too late to help those already exposed to it. 

The difference between ordinary toxic chemicals and 



192 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


carcinogens makes the lack of tests even more untenable. 
The effects of many poisons may be reversed, espcially 
those that are not cumulative; but damage from carcino¬ 
gens is irreversible. The new law thus protects consumers 
from a form of damage that possibly can be corrected, but 
offers only limited protection from a far more serious in¬ 
jury that cannot be reversed. 

As an unlimited number of new poisons are admitted to 
foods without tests specifically for cancer, the consumer 
can feel little security upon learning that about 25 per cent 
of all chemicals tested specifically for cancer-causing prop¬ 
erties have been found to be carcinogenic. Cancer tests also 
are not required of chemicals already in use, although, as 
Dr. Hueper and others have warned, long use of a sub¬ 
stance is no guarantee it will not cause cancer. 

The need for cancer tests on food chemicals is under¬ 
scored by the insidious nature of carcinogens; as we have 
emphasized, once they have started their daily work, the 
damage cannot be undone by subsequently outlawing their 
use in foods. Many studies testify to the delayed effects of 
these biological time bombs. 

In 1938, Dr. Hueper said, it was discovered that vineyard 
workers in the Moselle Valley had an epidemic of chronic 
arsenic poisoning. From 1940 on, an increasing number of 
arsenic cancers of the skin was observed among the work¬ 
ers “because they ingested rather large amount of wine 
contaminated with large amounts of arsenical insecticides. 
Now they have among their vineyard workers not only s kin 
cancer but lung cancer and liver cancers.” (The use of 
arsenic on tobacco is suspect as a cause of lung cancer; 
more than 80,000,000 pounds of arsenic are used annually 
in pesticides.) 

The public’s precarious margin of safety from the cancer 
hazard inherent in the inevitable increase in food chemicals 
was dramatized by Dr. Machle, when he warned that there 
is “no method by which we can secure reasonable proof 
that a material is not carcinogenic for man, inasmuch as it 
may take fifteen or twenty years for known environmental 
agents under conditions of severe exposure to produce a 
cancer in an individual.” 

How easily a researcher could control the results of his 
tests if he wanted to prove the “safety” of a chemical was 
testified by Dr. Machle when he said the action of car¬ 
cinogens fed to animals could be suppressed or enhanced 



THE LAW THAT DOES NOT PROTECT 


193 


in many ways, including the presence or lack of certain 
substances in the diet. The risk is emphasized by the differ¬ 
ent ways different species and even different strains of the 
same species react to chemicals. It also has been noted that 
instances have occurred when profound effects have been 
discovered in one laboratory and missed in another. 

The public’s margin of protection is further narrowed be¬ 
cause the new law requires the FDA to approve additives 
on the basis of test data furnished by their proponents, or 
show cause for disapproval within 180 days—just about six 
months. Cancer experts have pointed out that this is far 
too short a period to evaluate or verify such technical data. 
Then industry has the right to go into court and capitalize 
on the ignorance of a lay judge. William W. Goodrich of 
the FDA once observed that court decisions as to whether 
or not to use chemical additives should not be decided by 
which side has the cleverest lawyer. 

In addition to its time problem, the FDA is handicapped 
by lack of facilities to do the job it now is called upon to 
do Congresswoman Sullivan noted that the FDA is “ter¬ 
ribly understaffed, overburdened, poorly equipped ... It 
does not have enough chemists and inspectors to begin with; 
it lacks modern laboratory equipment; its inadequate la¬ 
boratory facilities, furthermore, are spread out all over 
town because of the lack of its own building.” 

These formidable obstacles failed to discourage Com¬ 
missioner Larrick in his support of the new legislation 
which placed an even greater workload on his department, 
although in 1955 he complained that the chemical industry 
is giving “our chemists and pharmacologists such a back¬ 
log of work that they cannot catch up. The emergence of 
new chemicals demanding entry into the food supply is 
running far ahead of the scientific knowledge needed to be 
sure of their safety.” 

The new law contains no specifications as to what “safety 
tests” shall be done on chemicals proposed for use in foods. 
The tests to be performed and their interpretation lie en¬ 
tirely within the discretion of the FDA. In view of the 
agency’s vigorous opposition to having a mandatory cancer 
test in the bill, and Mr. Larrick’s reluctance to single out 
cancer for special attention among diseases, it is unlikely 
that industry will be required to test new substances for 
cancer—although the FDA does have that power. Cancer 
tests are expensive and require several years. 



>94 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


The vagueness of the new law has been sharply criticized 
by Consumer’s Research. It charged that the drafting of the 
new law was largely determined by the pressures of in¬ 
dustry legal experts, who were able to see to it that the new 
law is so constructed that (a) no one but a lawyer, “one 
of great ability, and time for close study, can possibly 
understand its provisions and (b) the loopholes that have 
been provided are so large and so numerous that many 
sorts of chemical additives that the food industry wishes 
to use can get by, if only those who favor them take care 
to employ the right experts to ‘prove’ them harmless. 

“Fortunately for the food industry, and most unfortun¬ 
ately for the consuming public, the great majority of re¬ 
search agencies available for testing the poisonous qualities 
of additives will be those that are likely to turn up with an 
answer favorable to the interests of industry. There is no 
provision in the new law for making the laboratories’ tests 
completely independent of any direction, control or pres¬ 
sure by tiie manufacturer of the food or additive—who 
rightly should cease to have any control whatever over the 
work, once he has signed an order to the laboratory to 
begin its work ... nothing appears in the amendment which 
will provide for the toxicological competence and skill and 
the technical and scientific independence of the testing. 

Consumers’ Research also objected to the fact that under 
the law the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare is 
left to decide not only which opinion, among conflicting 
ones, he chooses to accept, but which experts have the 
“right” kind of training and experience. 

“Such a provision, with its wide opportunity for decision 
by a political officer on a personal rather than a firm legal 
and scientific basis has no place in a law that affects the , 
health and safety of 170 milli on consumers,” the article 
stated. 

It went on to say that it is contrary to sound principles 
of public administration, where technical and scientific 
principle are involved, to leave the final judgment of the 
frequently conflicting opinions of qualified experts to a 
political officer who is subject to many pressures. 

“No secretary of a government department has the 
capacity to make such tremendous decisions wisely; literally 
the life and health of millions of persons will depend upon 
the way he exercises his scientifically untrained judgment, 
and who talks to him without a public record of the inter- 





THE LAW THAT DOES NOT PROTECT 


195 


view before he decides . . . The harm is in permitting a 
political official to accept or disregard the advice, as he 
may choose.” 

Consumers’ Research pointed out that the food industry 
even scored “another triumph” in a simple matter of no¬ 
menclature. The amendment originally was to deal with 
chemical additives. Now it is called the “food additive 
amendment of 1958.” A small matter, it might seem, notes 
the magazine, “but a vitally important one when one 
realizes that the aim was to get the public’s mind off 
chemicals and to bring in the implication to the nontech¬ 
nical public that the additive is itself a food, not a chemical 
added to food. 

“The food industry correctly feels that the change from 
chemical additives to food additives will set many a con¬ 
sumer’s doubts at rest and greatly reduce the public’s re¬ 
sistance to use of chemicals as modifiers of the appearance 
and texture properties of foods and beverages and as pre¬ 
servatives (a fast-growing trend).” 

A criticism Dr. Smith leveled at the bill was that the 
unlimited use of chemicals would increase the likelihood 
of mistakes. “Since the number of such mistakes will in¬ 
evitably increase with the number of approved adulterants,” 
he said, “there seems little justification for legislation oblig¬ 
ing consumers to be guinea pigs for an unlimited series of 
sales-eager but biologically foreign substances of no nutri¬ 
tive value.” 

In direct opposition to the unlimited expansion of the 
number of chemicals in foods supported by industry and 
the FDA, he suggested that additives essential to provide 
food for the nation be specified and limited to as small a 
number as possible. Then those remaining could be so 
thoroughly tested that there could be confidence in their 
harmlessness. 

The advantage of this, he pointed out, was that it would 
provide the necessary number of chemicals for industry 
without unnecessary multiplication of risks consumers must 
accept. This was the same principle followed in 1938 when 
the large number of dyes in use was cut to nineteen that 
were certified for use in foods. The moral was provided 
earlier in this book when it was brought out that the dyes 
were originally “proved safe” by testing procedures then 
available, but with improved testing procedures available 




196 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


today it has been shown that all but one of the dyes are 
poisonous—and at least ten win cause cancer. 

( 2 ) 

Good faith is a built-in part of the new amendment to 
the food law. Good faith is supposed to compensate for the 
remarkable vagueness, ambiguity and weakness of the 
legislation. This good faith is extended not only to those 
who administer the law and evaluate the tests purporting 
to show the “harmlessness” of poisons proposed for use, but 
to industry and its hired scientists who do the testing. 

It is this implied good faith that stands between the 
American people and possible disaster of incalculable pro¬ 
portions. The law which was supposed to protect the people 
against any poison in their food has been destroyed, and in 
its place stands a $j[nall band of political appointees who 
have the right to determine how many poisons the Amer¬ 
ican people will consume, and in what quantities, each day 
of their lives. 

Since good faith has become the invisible foundation on 
which the nation’s welfare, and perhaps its survival, rests, 
it is only prudent to see how much of it the people can 
expect—both from Government and industry. 

Revealing testimony was offered along those lines by Dr. 
Smith during Congressional hearings on the new food law 
in the summer of 1958. But as early as 1954, when he was 
chairman of a symposium on cancer prevention at the 
Sixth International Cancer Congress at Sao Paulo, Brazil, 
he indicated in a speech on cancer control that all was not 
well in the world of commercial science. 

“Delays and obstructions have impeded advances in 
knowledge of preventable hazards,” he said. “. . . little 
progress can be anticipated from termination of studies 
when potential risks begin to appear. Some of the most 
active scientists in the field of industrial cancer hazards 
have had their studies terminated or been obliged to leave 
their laboratories soon after describing findings that asso¬ 
ciated hazards with certain products. ...” 

These charges were not spelled out until Dr, Smith 
offered explosive testimony, in July 1957, before the House 
Subcommittee on Health and Science during hearings on 
the need for a cancer clause in the new law. He laid the 
groundwork by pointing out that the FDA was “well aware” 






THE LAW THAT DOES NOT PROTECT 


197 


of the cancer problem relating to foods and of resolutions 
adopted by the International Union Against Cancer and 
the American Cancer Society to exclude all carcinogens 
from foods and to test all additives for cancer-causing 
properties. Despite this knowledge, he said, the FDA sup¬ 
ported legislation that failed to contain any provision to 
exclude carcinogens or require cancer tests of additives. 

“This failure is not accidental,” he testified. “During the 
past three years I have corresponded with the FDA about 
the need for such provisions. I am told that the FDA pre¬ 
pared that bill with the knowledge and approval of food 
industries, but without consulting the chairman of the Con¬ 
gressional committee that investigated the use of chemicals 
in food.” 

Dr. Smith then offered this bombshell: 

“In 1950, the National Cancer Institute of the United 
States Public Health Service established a program for 
study of environmental chemical factors in cancer. Within 
a few years, a Dr. A. J. Lanza, then director of the Institute 
of Industrial Medicine at New York University, told me 
that he had been retained by a group of chemical industries 
to call upon the Surgeon General and object to studies con¬ 
ducted under this program. He stated that his objection had 
been successful, and that all field studies by the National 
Cancer Institute in this program would be stopped. They 
were. 

“A few years later, I showed this same gentleman data 
indicating a cancer hazard for men employed in another 
industry that had retained him as a consultant. He advised 
me to keep out of this problem, and shortly thereafter 
notified me that my appointment as associate professor of 
industrial medicine at New York University would not be 
renewed. It was not renewed.” 

In addition to himself, Dr. Smith testified, he knew of 
three other research physicians who lost their jobs with 
chemical companies because of their interest in the cancer- 
causing properties of chemicals. He named Dr. Hueper, 
who he said was fired as assistant medical director of the 
Du Pont Company in 1938, after confirming with animal 
experiments that beta-naphthylamine (used in making cer¬ 
tain food dyes) had caused bladder cancers in many hun¬ 
dreds of humans who worked with it; Dr. Robert Collier 
Page, who was general medical director for Standard Oil 



198 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


Company of New Jersey; and Dr. Arthur Vorwald, director 
of the Saranac Laboratory, in 1951. 

Dr. Smith charged that government, university and in¬ 
dustrial research in the field of cancer control had been 
obstructed, while apologists for carcinogens were in great 
demand; scientists who advocated caution in the Use of 
carcinogens “are apt to end up without a job.” 

His sensational testimony triggered a storm of protest 
and denial. Dr. Page, in a letter to a Standard Oil Com¬ 
pany executive, claimed he had never been fired by the 
company and “I am presently enjoying my capacity as a 
consultant to Jersey Standard. . . .” He did not state when 
he was retained by the company as a “consultant” The 
Public Health Service claimed it had not curtailed field 
studies of cancer-causing chemicals and had even extended 
them. Dr. Lanza categorically denied Dr, Smith’s charges. 

Dr. Smith counterattacked by producing a letter written 
to him two years earlier (1955) by the official in charge of 
the specific Public Health Service program to which he 
had referred. The letter stated that Dr. Lanza had inter¬ 
vened with government officials and succeeded in stopping 
a program of research on lung cancer in the chromate 
industry. “It is my belief,” wrote this official, “that through 
the intervention of Dr. Lanza, not only the interest of 
American industries with cancer hazards to workers em¬ 
ployed in these industries, but of the American people at 
large, and of the American medical profession, was seri¬ 
ously damaged.” 

Dr. Smith’s documentation of his charges included an¬ 
other letter from Dr. E. S. Ross, chief medical director of 
the Brotherhood of Railroad Tr ainm en, who recalled a 
1955 meeting with Dr. Smith and the medical director of 
Du Pont “who was, I believe, a Dr. Fleming. I recall he 
said that Dr. W. C. Hueper had been discharged by that 
company shortly after showing that beta-naphthylamine 
induced cancer.” 

While all of industry cannot be condemned by a few 
unfortunate incidents, there has been a disturbing pattern 
of what Dr. Smith called “hopeful ostrich” attitudes toward 
cancer. This is expressed by ignoring the problem as much 
as possible; as long as chemicals are not tested for carcino¬ 
genicity, the question of whether they will cause cancer 
does not arise. Not testing also saves considerable money 
and time. The general attitude is that if the problem is 







THE LAW THAT DOES NOT PROTECT 


199 


ignored, perhaps it will go away—or drop dead. The “hope¬ 
ful ostrich” attitude was emphasized by Dr. Francis Ray’s 
testimony that “very few companies have carried out tests 
for cancer. The usual tests are acute toxicity tests. . . .” 

The greatest optimism of all is the FDA’s official atti¬ 
tude, which, in effect, holds that merely because a chemical 
causes cancer in some animals under some conditions it 
does not necessarily mean it will cause cancer in man. 
This free-wheeling attitude can be contrasted with Dr. Hue- 
per’s attitude that just because a chemical has not produced 
cancer in an animal “is not an adequate guarantee” that it 
is innocuous for man. 

It would seem that where the safety of 175,000,000 
people is at stake the more cautious attitude would be the 
accepted standard. But this is not the case, and the Amer¬ 
ican people are forced to play Russian roulette with their 
lives, as far as carcinogens in food are concerned. 

When food additives in use or proposed for use have 
been subjected to cancer tests, they have flunked their 
exams in a disturbingly large number of cases, as pre¬ 
viously pointed out. 

Dr. Smith observed that when someone has spent money 
developing a new chemical that he wants to sell for use in 
food, it is understandable that he would be reluctant to lose 
his investment, even when animal tests disclose that his 
compound induces cancer. “The Aramite decision,” he said, 
“provides a convenient device for the developer of a car¬ 
cinogenic food additive to go ahead and sell his product 
but it leaves consumers to take the risk.” 

Industry has enthusiastically espoused the “safe dose” 
concept for carcinogens. Its attitude, generally, was reflected 
by a witness who testified that “I see no reason to reject 
a compound considered as a food additive for the sole 
reason that it produces a skin cancer in a hypersensitive 
mouse.” He didn’t mention what might happen to a hyper¬ 
sensitive human. 

Equally as serious as minimizing the danger of carcino¬ 
gens has been the suppression of facts about them from 
the public. Government and industry officials have leveled 
widespread criticism at the International Union Against 
Cancer for lifting the curtain of silence about the cancer 
threat from chemical additives at the historic Rome meet¬ 
ing in 1956. Dr. Hueper, because of his paper outlining the 
dangers to which the public was being exposed, was singled 



200 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


out for special censure; since then he has felt the lash of 
official censorship. On at least two occasions he has been 
prevented by Government officials in the Department of 
Health, Education and Welfare from delivering papers on 
carcinogens in foods before meetings of scientists. On one 
occasion Dr. Hueper was scheduled to address the Ninth 
Annual Midwest Cancer Conference in Kansas in the sum¬ 
mer of 1957 on “Consumer Goods and Cancer Hazards,” 
but the speech was canceled after former FDA Deputy 
Commissioner John L. Harvey protested that it leveled 
“serious charges at the FDA.” 

Mr. Harvey’s communique to Marion B. Folsom, then 
Secretary of the Department of Health, Education and 
Welfare, also revealed the FDA’s attitude about what in¬ 
formation should—and should not—be made available to 
the public, when he stated: 

“We think it is desirable that our agencies bear in mind 
the great concern over cancer and the coverage that will 
be given in the lay press to the program of the 9th Annual 
Midwest Cancer Conference. Our experience following the 
International Conference in Rome . . . indicates that re¬ 
marks by a scientist intended for a scientific audience may 
well be picked up by the lay press writers and used to con¬ 
fuse and alarm the consuming public. ...” 

After the speech was canceled, officials of the Depart¬ 
ment of Health, Education and Welfare denied having 
exercised censorship, claiming the Hueper paper was dis¬ 
approved on other grounds. Following this incident, Dr. 
Hueper was supposed to deliver another paper at a meet¬ 
ing of the IUAC in London in July 1958, but again his 
paper was disapproved by department officials. 

The Government has been able to clamp down not only 
on scientists on its payroll, including many who are vi¬ 
olently opposed to official policy on chemical additives and 
other environmental poisons, but it also has been able to 
exert pressures on many other doctors and health officials 
who do not work directly for it. 

The number of medical people who look to the Federal 
Government for all or part of their livelihood was pointed 
out by Dr. James A. Shannon, director of the National 
Institute of Health, when he said that “thousands of doctors 
now depend on NIH grants for most of their support. The 
training of many researchers is financed by the Govern- 





THE LAW THAT DOES NOT PROTECT 


201 


ment. A majority of U. S. medical schools admit they 
would be in difficult straits without Government grants.” 

Dr. McCay of Cornell has raised “the problem of how 
all of us can defend those scientists who honestly try to 
protect the public interests but are constantly threatened 
with destruction if they take a position against fluoridation 
of water or against carcinogenic agents in foods. This need 
is especially evident among state and federal civil servants.” 

Dr. McCay said the right of the professor to express him¬ 
self in the area of his specialty is usually respected in better 
universities. “However,” he added, “these institutions are 
under never-ending pressure to conform to the wishes of 
those who donate money. This pressure grows from year 
to year as research expands and the operation of univers¬ 
ities becomes more expensive.” He emphasized that such 
pressures had never been exerted on him by Cornell 
officials. 

The problem of trying to retain scientific freedom in 
universities becomes more acute as industries “own” in¬ 
creasingly larger shares of such institutions through grants, 
fellowships, scholarships, donations, subsidies and other 
direct and indirect handouts, bringing a rich harvest in 
“loyalty” from the beneficiaries as well as certain income- 
tax advantages. Many professors owe their jobs to these 
funds. They, like others who serve industry as consultants, 
are seldom unaware of the source of their bread and butter 
or supplementary income. 

Professional men and research scientists—physicians, 
dentists, chemists and others—are also subject to varying 
degrees of control by their professional societies. Some of 
these organizations, like the American Dental Association, 
have life-and-death economic power over their members. 

In November of 1958 it was announced by an Ohio 
newspaper that Dr. Jonathan Forman, an allergist of 
Columbus and an ardent foe of chemicals in foods, was 
forced to resign as editor of the Ohio State Medical Journal 
because of his outspoken opposition to fluoridation. 

A commentary on the unhealthy lack of scientific inde¬ 
pendence in America today was the difficulty the Delaney 
Committee had in getting scientists to testify about the 
harmful nature of chemicals in foods. Many prospective 
witnesses would privately express their apprehensions about 
the situation, but they refused to go on record for fear of 



202 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


economic reprisal. Some of the men who courageously 
spoke up said they were sticking their necks out 

Another serious aspect of the problem is the control 
Government and industry have over research. Virtually all 
funds for such purpose must come from one of these two 
sources. If they are not sympathetic to the project, financial 
support can be withheld and the experiment most likely will 
not be undertaken. If the test comes out wrong—as did the 
sugar experiment at Harvard—the funds may be with¬ 
drawn, as they were in that instance. 

Still another aspect of the problem is the failure or re¬ 
fusal to recognize or report adverse effects from certain 
hazards. Dr. Hueper cited a case in which the occurrence 
of occupational cancers caused by chemicals in a certain 
manufacturing process remained unreported for many years 
“although the circumstances favoring their discovery were 
most favorable.” 

When hazards are brought to light, industry often has 
shown less interest in correcting them than in trying to 
whitewash them with frenzied public-relations activity— 
an abuse especially prevalent among pesticide manufac¬ 
turers. The late Dr. L. G. Cox, formerly of the Beech-Nut 
Company, testified before the Delaney Committee that few 
producers of pesticides would admit the residue problem 
existed, nor would they try to correct it, but they did raise 
a reported $119,000 for public relations “to offset unfavor¬ 
able publicity against chemicals in foods.” On the other 
hand, he continued, “it has been extremely difficult to raise 
funds from either the food industry or the chemical in¬ 
dustry, for research projects on residue problems in canned 
or processed foods.” 

A chemical trade journal disclosed that producers of 
hydrogenated fats were anteing up $300,000 for public 
relations to counteract the adverse publicity given their 
product as a suspected cause of heart disease. 

The form this public-relations activity takes is not spelled 
out, but some politicians who have taken excessive interest 
in promoting corrective food legislation have noted that 
their opponents in election campaigns appear to have un¬ 
usually heavy financial backing. Certain other political 
figures in Congress, the record shows, seem to take extra¬ 
ordinary pains to promote the use of chemicals in foods 
and defend their use. Public relations appears to have many 
facets. 




THE LAW THAT DOES NOT PROTECT 


203 


On numerous occasions the public has been the victim of 
various political pressures exerted on behalf of special in¬ 
terests in the food or chemical industries. In one case the 
FDA was ordered by Congress^Agricultural Act of 1938) 
to stop two years of experiments designed to learn the 
dangers of poisoning from lead and arsenic, commonly 
used as insecticides until largely replaced by DDT, and the 
test animals were ordered killed—a procedure Consumers’ 
Research compared to the Nazi book burnings. In another 
case cited by Consumers’ Research, the public was kept in 
ignorance for many years by Federal and state authorities 
about the threat of selenium poisoning from flour milled 
out of wheat grown on certain selenium-bearing soils in 
some midwestem states. 

Each incident of victimization of the public, economic¬ 
ally or biologically, for the benefit of commercial interests 
could be isolated and dismissed as trivial, unimportant or 
even “statistically insignificant.” But when we evaluate the 
good faith of those who are responsible for the integrity of 
the food supply, the collective impact of this good faith is 
hardly reassuring. Former representative Usher L. Burdick 
put the matter bluntly when he charged that the Food and 
Drug Administration, the American Medical Association 
and “the big chemical companies” have joined in a con¬ 
spiracy “to inject these poisonous chemicals into food, not 
for the safety of public health, but for the profits arising 
from the manufacture of the chemicals. An examination 
of the records leaves little in doubt as to the facts of this 
conspiracy.” 

Further, said Mr. Burdick, a former Federal prosecutor, 
although it has been a crime to adulterate foods since the 
Pure Food and Drug Act was passed by Congress in 1906, 
“the law has never been enforced, so that today poisons 
are being injected into food without limit, while the people 
believe they are protected by this law.” 

The 1906 law fathered by Dr. Wiley was one of the great 
legislative achievements of this century, but it was hardly 
on the books before the adulterers began trying to emas¬ 
culate it. From the beginning, they had but one goal—to 
get Congress to legalize the use of small amounts of toxic 
substances in foods. This goal eluded them until the sum¬ 
mer of 1958—two years after the government paid homage 
to Dr. Wiley by issuing a special commemorative stamp in 
his honor. 


204 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


Dr. Wiley’s story is a catalogue of the frustrations and 
heartbreak suffered by a man who dedicated his life to 
fighting efforts to undermine the pure food law. Illegal 
boards were created to override his decisions prohibiting 
the use of poisons in any amount in foods; techniques he 
developed to substitute natural processes for the use of 
chemicals in foods were relegated to the Department of 
Agriculture’s morgue, legal victories were nullified by ad¬ 
ministrative edict and court decisions were interpreted to 
suit political and commercial expediency. 

Gradually the adulterers’ tremendous power proved too 
great. A series of ruthless measures left Dr. Wiley and his 
department virtually powerless, and he was practically 
forced to resign. In ensuing years, the policies that he 
fought so vigilantly became departmental policy, capped by 
the 1958 amendment legalizing the use of small amounts 
of poisons in foods. 

When the 1958 amendment was passed, the New York 
Times (Feb. 24, 1958) quoted Dr. Arnold Lehman of the 
FDA as asserting that he had been setting “tacit tolerances’” 
for certain additives in violation of the existing law. “What 
we have been doing all along has been pretty illegal, until 
Congress bailed us out,” he stated. 

FDA apparently took it on itself to decide which of the 
nation’s laws to enforce and which to ignore—a powei 
never conferred on it by Congress. 

To justify the FDA’s failure to enforce the law prohibit¬ 
ing the use of poisons in any amount, then Commissioner 
Larrick, in seeking the amendment to legalize the existing 
illegal use of poisons, said the 1938 law “was never a scien¬ 
tific one, and mainly on that account it has often been 
impractical of enforcement. To abandon it is a realistic 
step. . ..” 

In contrast to the tolerance the FDA extended to power¬ 
ful manufacturers who dumped tons of poisons into foods 
in open violation of the law, the FDA could be stern and 
uncompromising for what it considered more serious of¬ 
fenses. It has been particularly severe with small purveyors 
of health foods who were guilty of too much enthusiasm in 
claiming benefits for natural foods free of chemical adulter¬ 
ation. The FDA contended that by claiming healing virtues 
for such foods, the foods became drugs and should have 
contained directions for use. 

At the same time no one is known to have been sent to 



THE LAW THAT DOES NOT PROTECT 


205 


jail for permitting the use of forbidden pesticides in milk 
or using excess amounts of pesticides on other foods. No 
one has had to face stern justice for leaving in chickens 
342,000 times the amount of stilbestrol necessary to start 
cancer in a mouse. Similarly, the use of toxic food dyes, in 
strict violation of the law, has been overlooked. 

Inequities such as these caused Dr. Wiley, the fallen 
crusader, to ponder what the condition of the country 
would have been if the pure food law had been enforced. 
No poisonous substances would have been allowed in foods, 
he said. No soft drink would contain any harmful ingredi¬ 
ents. No bleached flour would enter interstate commerce. 

“Our foods and drugs would be wholly without any form 
of adulteration and misbranding. The health of our people 
would be vastly improved and their life greatly extended. 
The manufacturers of our food supply, and especially the 
millers, would devote their energies to improving the public 
health and promoting happiness in every home by the 
production of whole ground, unbolted cereal flours and 
meals. 

“The resistance of our people to infectious diseases would 
be greatly increased by a vastly improved and more whole¬ 
some diet. Our example would be followed by the civilized 
world and thus bring to the whole universe the benefits 
which our own people had received. 

“We would have been spared the ignominy and disgrace 
of great scientific men bending their efforts to defeat the 
purpose of one of the greatest laws ever enacted for the 
protection of the public welfare. Eminent officials of our 
Government would have escaped the indignation of out¬ 
raged public opinion because they permitted and encour¬ 
aged these frauds on the public. The cause of a wholesome 
diet would not have been put back for fifty or a hundred 
years. . ..” 

And last but not least, the peril Dr. Smith warned against 
would never have become the law of the land in the sum¬ 
mer of 1958. The human digestive tract would not have 
been legislated into the role of a sewer for the disposal of 
untold hundreds of chemicals that afford only commercial 
advantage. 


13 

What to Do 
about It 


What is the solution to the chemicals-in-food problem? 
I don’t claim to have the whole answer. The task I set for 
myself was to compile the evidence and present the prob¬ 
lem as simply and clearly as possible, and in that endeavor 
I have been fortunate in having the help of some of the 
country’s foremost physicians who are interested in the 
cause of good, wholesome foods. But after three years of 
constant study of this tremendously complex situation, I 
can offer some suggestions and observations. 

The beginning point must be recognition that the prob¬ 
lem exists, and that unless it is solved we are courting dis¬ 
aster. No progress can be made along those lines while it 
remains a sacred cow of the advertising profession, to be 
ignored or whitewashed. 

If the over-all problem is considered by any officially 
appointed body, that body should be kept independent of 
the pressures of industry and Government alike; keep it 
away from bureaucrats and politicians with an ax to grind; 
keep it away from scientists who owe their livelihood to 
industry and are more interested in proving that various 
food chemicals are safe than in finding out if they are 
harmful. 

Many of these chemicals and the hazards they pose 
could be stopped by honest legislation designed to protect 
consumers. There is no excuse for artificial sex hormones, 
antibiotics, coal-tar dyes, carcinogens, suspect emulsifiers 
and most of the other toxic substances in common use. 
They never should have been permitted in the first place 
and they should not be allowed now. Industry should not 
be given six months, a year, two years, thirty months or 


206 



WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT 


207 


longer to find out if they are safe; by government decree 
these substances should be banned at once, and they should 
not be readmitted unless proved to be both safe for all 
persons who must eat them and of direct nutritional benefit 
to consumers. Few chemicals could qualify under this test. 

The number of additives necessary to feed the nation 
should be reduced to an absolute minimum, as Dr. Smith 
recommended, and those remaining should be tested by 
every known means until there could be confidence in their 
harmlessness. Testing procedures should include cancer 
tests, and chemicals found to cause cancer in man or ani¬ 
mal should be automatically and instantly eliminated. Why 
should the consumer be forced to take the slightest risk 
from chemicals that offer no nutritional value? Why should 
he be asked to accommodate commercial interest at risk 
of his own health and life? 

Further, let us stop being brainwashed by propaganda 
about the so-called agricultural revolution that has “enabled 
science to produce an abundance of quality food.” Fre¬ 
quently neither science nor quality is in evidence. In their 
place are biological tricks and chemical deceptions to mask 
the deficiencies that accompany the production of quantity 
in place of quality. We have been so seduced by mislead¬ 
ing advertising that we do not recognize the nutritional 
shortcomings of our chemically soaked food supply, and 
our jaded taste buds no longer recognize its lack of taste. 

An even more serious part of the problem is the pesti¬ 
cides. This is the only field in which American industry 
admits defeat, even makes a virtue of defeat, pointing with 
pride to the lethal nature of its product. The government 
has made no effort to find out it the nation can be fed 
without being poisoned. Instead it says there is no proof 
that foods can be grown without the use of poisons. It 
ignores the fact that hundreds of farms are producing food 
without use of chemicals. In place of experiment to see if 
natural farming methods are feasible on a nationwide basis, 
the government does everything possible to harass and dis¬ 
courage those who practice this method. 

The fact that sprays are claimed to be necessary to grow 
food is not a warrant for their increased use; it is an indict¬ 
ment of the critical plight of American agriculture and the 
waning fertility of our once-rich soils. Poison sprays, rather 
than being a solution, are merely a delaying action, a final 
desperate maneuver to stave off catastrophe. 



208 


THE POISONS IN YOUH FOOD 


There is tremendous evidence that the problem could be 
largely controlled if entomologists would get back to being 
biologists instead of chemists. There are promising leads 
that control could be largely effected through encourage¬ 
ment of harmless insect species that prey on the crop-eating 
varieties and development of air-conditioned grain elevators 
and mechanical and electrical devices that have shown 
promise as pest killers. Even more important is the urgent 
need to restore the health of our soil. 

Dr. Albrecht has spoken eloquently about the threat of 
our declining soil fertility and the consequent shift from 
high-protein plants to carbohydrate fillers that offer little 
more than bulk to deceive the hungry belly. It is to be the 
final mockery of our civilization that we are to starve to 
death with full stomachs? 

Our agriculture problem suggests a Gilbert and Sullivan 
operetta. We use chemicals to produce more food than we 
can use, sacrificing quality to quantity. Then the surplus 
must be stored at tremendous cost. To keep it from being 
devoured by insects it must be basted with powerful 
poisons; we seem to prefer eating poisoned dead insects 
to healthy live ones. Instead of consuming our “surplus” 
grains, butter, eggs and other protein products in health- 
promoting whole-wheat breads and other baked goods, we 
put chemicals into them that offer little or no nutrition. 
We remove the best part of the wheat, feed it to animals, 
and what remains we add synthetic vitamins to make up for 
the removed nutrients; then we call this impoverished pro¬ 
duct “enriched.” Finally, we spend millions of dollars on 
vitamins and drugs to make up for the nutritional defi¬ 
ciencies of our foods. 

The health of the people will not be served as long as 
agricultural production is geared to economics instead of 
the demands of the body. Let us stop deluding ourselves 
about our state of health, recognize it for what it is and see 
if a change in diet can improve it. A nation must recognize 
that it indeed is in a precarious state when crime and bad 
health are among its biggest industries. 

Instead of findin g out if our monumental amount of bad 
health is due to the use of food chemicals and improperly 
grown foods, we ignore cause and concentrate on effect; 
we block out unpleasant facts with nonsense about better 
reporting, better diagnostic methods, more accurate statis- 





WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT 


209 


tics and other smoke screens. This is trifling with catas¬ 
trophe, both biologically and politically. 

Many ingenious arguments have been presented to justify 
the use of small amounts of poisons in foods. All are said 
to be based on the scientific method. Proponents of these 
poisons have been singularly successful in establishing that 
anyone who objects to eating them is considered mentally 
deficient. When I wrote a series of newspaper articles at¬ 
tacking the DDT gypsy moth program, many sympathetic 
readers called to offer encouragement or information. Al¬ 
most to a man they began by assuring me they weren’t 
crackpots; because they objected to being doused with 
poison they felt compelled to defend their sanity. 

Dr. Wiley’s argument that the nature of a poison is not 
changed by reducing the amount has never been success¬ 
fully challenged. Regardless how small the dose, it is still 
poison. It is still antagonistic to the human organism. It is 
worth repeating still again that when poison is applied to 
to the human body, there is damage. The more poison, 
the greater the damage. The smaller the amount, the less 
the damage. The fact that the dose can be reduced until 
damage no longer is discernible does not mean it no longer 
takes place—merely that it no longer can be seen. 

As long as it is profitable to inject chemicals into foods, 
someone will be repeating the now familiar argument that 
because some substances found in the human body and in 
nature are poisonous when isolated in the test tube, it is 
sound practice to use more of these substances in foods. 
As scientists who temper their learning with humility have 
pointed out, these substances were introduced into the body 
by nature for a purpose. They were formulated in a specific 
amount for a specific purpose. If a larger or smaller amount 
were needed, the amount would have been larger or small¬ 
er. Those who reject this idea as unscientific must be re¬ 
minded that nature produced and sustained life, a feat man 
has not been able to duplicate. Man does not even under¬ 
stand what life is; a single cell is so infinitely complex that 
increased knowledge and understanding brings to the 
humble only greater respect for the mystery and beauty 
of life. 

All of us owe a debt to science, but we must also be 
aware of its limitations and acknowledge the difference 
between science and scientists. Science is an objective 
dispassionate body of knowledge. Scientists are men with 



210 


THE POISONS IN YOUH FOOD 


the same strengths and weaknesses as other men. They 
too have biases and prejudices. 

The subject is much too broad and profound for more 
than cursory mention here. Like other men who have 
found themselves in untenable positions, scientists are 
able to rationalize what they do. No one goes home at 
night to rub his hands together and say, “Well, I poisoned 
another million babies today.” The scientist who advo¬ 
cates the use of poisons in small amounts has been able 
to convince himself this is safe procedure. But this hypoth¬ 
esis is not a scientific fact. It is a scientist’s rationalization. 

I recall one scientist, the head of a nutritional founda¬ 
tion supported by the chemical and food industries. Asked 
to comment on some food chemicals I was writing about, 
he endorsed the use of every substance challenged and I 
quoted him as saying the substances did “no harm.” Upon 
checking the article for accuracy, he made one change. 
“No harm” was made to read “no great harm.” It was his 
rationalization that the products he earned his living by 
endorsing did the public no great harm. 

The industrialist who manufactures and sells food 
additives must be considered apart from the scientist. He 
lives by a different set of rules. He’s not against people, 
but he usually thinks of profits first; he has a different 
set of values. He is less likely to regard the public as a 
collection of individuals than as a lovely big mass of 
consumers that offer wonderful opportunity for commer¬ 
cial exploitation. And besides, don’t his own scientists 
tell him these things are safe in small amounts? 

The greatest threat industrialists pose is their ignorance 
about the biological dynamite they are tampering with. 
As Dr. Roy C. Newton, vice-president in charge of sci¬ 
entific activities for Swift and Company, warned, the 
chemical companies’ propaganda obviously was prepared 
by persons who do not have full realization of the delicacy 
of balance of chemical reactions within the human body 
and the ease with which foreign substances can throw 
this delicate mechanism out of balance. 

Because of the enormous power industrialists exert, 
they have been able to get control of the Government 
agencies that are supposed to regulate them. They are 
able to place their own men in key spots and dictate 
policy. A former key official of one of the biggest milling 
companies in the country was, until his recent retire- 




WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT 


211 


ment, a top official in the FDA. Where would his primary 
loyalty lie—to industry or to the consumer? Could he 
be expected to have the viewpoint of the consumer? 

These political appointees have the power to overrule 
the recommendations of career men who have the tech¬ 
nical training and knowledge to appreciate the hazard the 
public is being subjected to by the increasing adultera¬ 
tion of foods. The FDA employs some of the finest sci¬ 
entists in the country, many of whom are strongly opposed 
to the official policy of permitting poisons in foods, but 
their recommendations are overruled and ignored on the 
politically controlled policy level. 

Another aspect of the problem is that some Govern¬ 
ment employees plan, upon retiring, to seek a job in in¬ 
dustry. This often makes them reluctant or unwilling to 
enforce unpopular regulations. 

It is the unsuspecting public that ultimately must pay 
the price of tolerant attitudes by officials toward law en¬ 
forcement. There need be nothing insidious in this. The 
public can be dismissed as a nameless, shapeless thing 
without form, meaning or personality, incapable of pain 
or elation. 

While it is conceded occasionally that extremely sus¬ 
ceptible persons may react unfavorably to some of the 
poisons used in foods, this admission is countered by the 
assurance that there is no danger for the great majority 
of people. This means there is little or no protection for 
some people, especially those with allergies and suscepti¬ 
bilities. Who are the ones who will prove to be vulner¬ 
able? You? Me? Your children? Mine? None of us 
can know until it is too late. Then those who succumb 
will be written off as “statistically insignificant.” Is there 
any man alive who feels statistically insignificant? 

More and more we tend to emphasize the average and 
forget the individual. Mass conformity has become the 
order of the day. It is not enough that we are supposed 
to conform mentally, physically and spiritually to the 
standards of the average man; it is becoming increasingly 
hazardous not to conform biologically. 

The wanton use of chemicals in food emphasizes the 
personal problem of the individual who fails to measure 
up to the national average. With an issue like smoking, 
for instance, each person can evaluate the risk for him¬ 
self and decide whether or not to take his chances; with 




212 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


foods, we are all members of a captive audience. We 
all must eat. We all must get our food from the same 
general sources. If the Government will not protect us, 
we have no real protection. 

As long as the individual cannot look to his government 
for protection, he must take such measures as he can to 
protect hims elf. This is not the ideal remedy or the 
ultimate solution, but it does offer some immediate 
protection. 

The most important place to begin is by having the best 
nutrition possible. In addition to laying the groundwork 
for general health, it is necessary to help the body fight 
the unavoidable poisons in the diet and daily environ¬ 
ment. One of the best general books on nutrition is 
Adelle Davis’ Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit. Good nutrition, 
as she points out, means a diet high in proteins and low- 
in refined sugar. It includes whole-wheat grains, unsatur- 
ated oils, fresh fruits and vegetables, salads, milk, butter, 
eggs and meat (especially organ meats: heart, liver, kid¬ 
neys, etc.) 

The hardest part of trying to follow a good dietary regi¬ 
men is the difficulty of avoiding pesticides. It is virtually 
impossible to avoid all pesticides, but intake of these poi¬ 
sons can be considerably reduced by following certain 
precautions; this is especially desirable since the storage 
of DDT in the body is in direct proportion to the amount 
one is exposed to in diet and environment. 

Most DDT enters the body from meat, due to DDTs 
tendency to concentrate in the fat; this is unfortunate be¬ 
cause meat is our primary source of protein. An ele¬ 
mentary precaution calls for removing all visible fat and 
not eating gravy- made from drippings containing fat The 
valuable nutrients in the meat drippings may be retained 
by chilling the liquid and removing the hardened fat. This 
fat-removing procedure can also be followed in m akin g 
soups. 

Another precaution is to buy lean meats and lean chick¬ 
ens; lean meats, while less tender, are likely to contain 
less DDT because of the lower fat content and they gen¬ 
erally are cheaper. Especially desirable are sirloin, round 
and the organ meats, rather than porterhouse, tenderloin 
and other fat, well-marbled cuts. 

Even with visible fats removed, beef, pork, chicken, 
duck and goose contain a considerable proportion of fat 





WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT 


213 


distributed through the tissues in such a way that it can¬ 
not be separated and discarded. This is especially true 
of the higher-grade prime and choice meats; the feeding 
of cattle and hogs to produce deposits of fat and “mar¬ 
bling” of steaks, roasts and chops has been accepted prac¬ 
tice for many years. 

Because of the possibility that stilbestrol pellets may 
remain in the poultry neck, some people discard the neck 
altogether. Poultry dipped in antibiotic solutions is sup¬ 
posed to carry a marking to that effect and can be avoided 
by those who wish to take that precaution. However, if 
not involved in interstate commerce, this poultry may not 
be labeled to indicate that an antibiotic dip has been used 
on it. 

If fish are not subjected to the use of antibiotics as 
preservatives, they are one of the few uncontaminated 
foods available. Widespread use of sprays, however, has 
led to the contamination of many fresh-water fish. When 
uncontaminated fish are available, they can be used fre¬ 
quently to supplement or replace meat as a major source 
of protein. 

It is preferable to prepare meat and fish by boiling, 
broiling, roasting and baking, rather than frying, to help 
reduce DDT exposure and cut down on undesirable fat 
intake. 

Fats used in cooking also are likely to contain con¬ 
siderable pesticide residue. Vegetable oils have the com¬ 
pensating feature of being valuable sources of unsaturated 
fatty acids, but that advantage is offset if they are wholly 
or partly hydrogenated. Consumers’ Research recom¬ 
mends using a minimum of shortenings and ready-pre¬ 
pared foods containing them (mass-produced cakes and 
pastries, etc.) which have labels that refer only to “vege¬ 
table oil” or “shortening,” without naming the oil used or 
stating whether it has been hydrogenated. These and 
other ready-prepared foods also may contain a variety of 
other undesirable chemicals. 

It also is prudent to practice restraint in the use of all 
ready-mixed or frozen and other ready-for-the-oven and 
heat-and-serve foods, as they are commonly made with 
processed fats, as well as other adulterants. 

A further precaution in reducing DDT intake calls for 
peeling all fruits and vegetables that lend themselves to 
such treatment, even at cost of losing valuable nutrients 




214 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


in the skins. Apple cider and other fruit juices made of 
the whole fruit, including skins, must be held suspect as 
being highly contaminated with pesticides, especially 
apples, probably the most heavily sprayed of all foods. 
The outside layer of celery should be scraped, and the 
outside leaves of lettuce, cabbage and similar leafy vege¬ 
tables should be disposed of and the remainder thoroughly 
washed. 

Chickens and eggs (primarily the yolks) generally are 
heavily contaminated by pesticides and other chemicals, 
and poultry is often diseased. This makes it prudent to 
avoid commercial poultry products when possible by buy¬ 
ing from local farmers who use a minimum of these sub¬ 
stances; such farmers are rare, but there are a few left. 
Some abstain from the use of chemicals to put cheap 
weight on anim als because they are interested primarily 
in producing nutritious and tasty food for their own 
families. A few feel it is immoral to inflict such biologi¬ 
cal indignities on any living creature. 

It is axiomatic that anyone trying to reduce his DDT in¬ 
take will use no aerosol bombs. Many people use these 
routinely in their homes, even in the kitchen. Women 
have been made so sanitation-conscious through advertis¬ 
ing that they fail to see the irony of presiding over a 
sterile kitchen, as they prepare foods laced with some of 
the most powerful poisons known. Goaded by advertis¬ 
ing, many Americans have developed a phobia about kill¬ 
ing bugs—all bugs, helpful and harmful alike. 

At various times efforts have been made to compel pro¬ 
ducers of fruits and vegetables to mark their products 
with labels stating all poisons used on them. This has 
been fought vigorously by the affected interests. They 
maintain it would be inconvenient, expensive and, more 
important, consumers would not buy products if they 
knew they were eating these formidable-sounding chemi¬ 
cals. Instead of viewing this as a mandate to eliminate 
these poisons, they regard it as a warning to keep the 
consumer in the dark about what he eats. 

The law requires all shipments of fruits and vegetables 
treated with chemical preservatives to carry small cards 
(3x5 inches) stating in small type the substance used; 
these cards, according to the law, are supposed to be dis¬ 
played on the produce by the retailer. Several surveys, 
however, failed to turn up any merchants complying with 






WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT 215 

the law. There are no indications that the FDA has en¬ 
forced this ruling. 

Produce growers recently made a vigorous fight to push 
through Congress a bill to repeal the card-displaying re¬ 
quirement. But before acting on the measure, the House 
Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce queried 
the various states’ food and drugs divisions. The states 
overwhelmingly opposed the change and the bill was 
dropped. 

Dr. Martin of the Kansas State Health Department 
noted that in hearings on the proposed measure “a great 
many witnesses expressed the fear that consumers would 
be frightened by the long, unfamiliar, unpronounceable 
names of the preservatives used and avoid the purchase of 
foodstuffs so labeled.” He added: 

“As the name of the chemical becomes more and more 
frightening, at the same time the chemical is apt to be 
more and more foreign to the human body, relatively new 
and untested by time, and to have a smaller and smaller 
margin of safety. The intelligent and well-informed con¬ 
sumer might therefore very much wish to avoid foodstuffs 
with an impressive label.” 

Dr. Martin pointed out that in the case of chemical 
additives, what the consumer doesn’t know “may very 
well hurt him. It would seem desirable to have chemic¬ 
ally treated and untreated foods compete with each other 
in the market place, with the buyer making the decision 
on the basis of his own information and the pressure 
of economics.” 

While the FDA has concentrated its efforts to insist on 
accurate labeling, it has been demonstrated that many in¬ 
adequacies still remain to be corrected. Labels, for ex¬ 
ample, may state that a product contains emulsifier, but 
the consumer has no way of finding out the type or the 
amount. He also has no way of knowing if he is being 
cheated on the percentage of ingredients used. To state 
that a product is rabbit and horse implies that there are 
equal portions of each; but this is not very accurate if the 
proportion is one rabbit to one horse. As Dr. McCay 
pointed out, it does little good merely to list ingredients 
without quantitative values. 

Labels also are likely to be taken up mostly by the 
name of the product and the manufacturer, leaving only a 
small, half-concealed spot for the required declaration of 


216 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


ingredients. Or, as Consumers’ Research pointed out, 
“perhaps he will use for this statement of ingredients a 
size of type or a color of ink and background that makes 
the wording difficult, and in some cases impossible, to 
read.” Another trick used to evade the labeling require¬ 
ment is to slap a special sticker over the label. 

The whole labeling procedure urgently needs overhaul¬ 
ing and greater enforcement if the public is to have the 
protection it is entitled to. Since most people are not 
chemists, a long listing of chemicals used in a product 
serves little purpose. The consumer could buy more in¬ 
telligently, exercising any knowledge gained about harm¬ 
ful additives, if the label were required to state not only 
the name of the chemical used but the specific purpose it 
served. Then the consumer —and not the FDA—could 
determine if the additive served a useful purpose; the 
buyer could make up his own mind if saving some frac¬ 
tion of a penny, or perhaps several pennies, entailed risk¬ 
ing his family’s health or life. 

The only foods that do not require labels stating the in¬ 
gredients used are so-called standardized products—those 
for which Congress has set “standards of identity.” This 
means specific components that can be used and the 
amounts permissible. The chief groups of “standardized” 
foods include cocoa and chocolate, flour, com meal, 
farina and macaroni, bread, milk and cream, cheese and 
processed cheese, mayonnaise and salad dressing, canned 
fruit and fruit juices, preserves and jellies, tomato prod¬ 
ucts and, recently joining the list, ice cream. 

A shortcoming of the “standards” procedure is that the 
consumer has no opportunity to see which chemicals 
someone else has decided are safe for him. Ice cream, for 
instance, contains as one of its optional ingredients the 
stabilizer sodium carboxymethyl-cellulose, which “pro¬ 
motes smoothness.” Dr. Hueper has named this substance 
as a cancer-producing suspect. Standards for ice cream 
also permit the use of coal-tar dyes and artificial flavor¬ 
ing agents, neither of which would be stated on the 
container. 

The consumer might well wonder why standards, if de¬ 
signed to benefit the public, should not encourage competi¬ 
tion on the level of quality by setting only minimum 
amounts of nutrients that could be used, with the maxi¬ 
mum amounts left up to firms in competition with each 



WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT 


217 


other. Why shouldn’t progressive manufacturers be able 
to force standards up by educating the public to think 
in terms of quality instead of quantity? 

In the more critical area of nutritional “short weight,” 
due to refining and use of chemical additives, many 
people, as a rule of thumb, use as few factory-processed 
foods as possible. As with all rules, there are exceptions, 
but, generally speaking, the less processing foods are sub¬ 
jected to, the greater their nutritional value. 

The rule Hippocrates laid down is as valid today as 
when he propounded it: foods should be as near as pos¬ 
sible to the condition in which nature intended them. 
Equally important, they should be as fresh as possible. 

Almost all processing of foodstuffs is designed to in¬ 
crease their shelf life, and chemicals are used to mask 
the consequent loss of vitality, flavor, texture, color and 
other desirable natural qualities. The more all these 
chemicals can be avoided, the better, not only because 
of the direct hazard they impose on those who consume 
them, but also because of the damage they inflict on foods 
and the consequent deficiencies in people who eat them. 

Preservatives and heat do not merely “stop the clock” 
on food spoilage, as claimed; they interfere with the life 
processes of the treated foods and lower their nutritional 
value. Some chemicals may not directly cause cancer or 
other diseases, and may never be proved to do so, but 
they could be indirect causes of infirmities by depriving 
the body of nutrients which protect against bad health. 
As deficient foods are eaten, the body progressively has 
less capacity to fight off effects of poisons in foods and a 
cycle of accelerating deterioration is set in motion. This 
argues with renewed force for the lowest possible intake 
of toxic chemicals and the least change from the natural 
state of foods. 

Probably the most important protective measure any¬ 
one with a small amount of land can take is having his 
own garden. This assures many advantages: a constant 
supply of fresh products, economy, convenience and a 
pleasant and productive form of exercise. Many people, 
by using natural farming methods arc able to grow their 
own produce without the use of chemical fertilizers or 
sprays. 

It is unfortunate that the public has been educated to so 
many false values about food. Women have been per- 



218 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


suaded to be more concerned with the external appear¬ 
ance of most products than their quality and flavor. Food 
is no different from any other commodity. You tend to 
get what you pay for. It.costs extra money to produce 
quality foods because labor and natural products replace 
the use of chemicals. 

With our curious sense of value, food generally is the 
first commodity we cut down on when trying to economize. 

A French physician, Dr. Gabriel Mouchot, pointed out 
that France is different in this respect because in France 
most people spend quite a lot on food, “and in general 
their food is good.” In England (which is like the United 
States), he said, “food is always at the end of the list.” 
Writing in Medical World, Dr. Mouchot noted that in 
England the people develop complexes and have duodenal 
ulcers and other ailments. 

“In Normandy,” he said, “you can be jilted and survive: 
if you are crossed in love, your duodenum will not bleed; 
if you lose money on the Stock Exchange, a few sleepless 
nights may follow, but certainly no ulcer. You can be a 
politician in France and keep your duodenum—even if 
you lose your reputation. Why should anxiety cause duo¬ 
denal ulcer in Kent and Gloucester, but not in Norman¬ 
dy?” He suggested the health of the people might be bet¬ 
ter if, “instead of spending million of pounds on idiotic 
films, tobacco, football pools and what else, more were 
spent on decent unadulterated food.” 

In France most foods are grown by natural methods, 
just as they are in Russia. A small item in the news re¬ 
cently noted that Lysenko, the famous and controversial 
Russian agronomist and geneticist, recommended the use 
of more organic fertilizers in place of chemicals; when the 
agricultural bigwigs opposed him, Premier Khrushchev 
came to Lysenko’s support. The latest five-year plan, 
which began in 1958, called for the doubled production 
of compost. This is another warning the United States 
would do well to heed. 

In this country, farmers who would de-emphasize the 
use of chemicals have received no encouragement. In¬ 
stead, they have run into official antagonism and harass¬ 
ment, often being forced against their will to use poison 
sprays. Despite this obstacle, the natural method of farm¬ 
ing without chemicals has grown steadily in the United 
States in recent years. Many growers now carry on a 




WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT 


219 


brisk mail-order business, sending their products all over 
the country as the word spreads about the advantages of 
unadulterated foods. Postage increases the cost, but as 
more regional sources of supply develop, this cost should 
be reduced. Most of the big natural growers now are lo¬ 
cated in California, Florida, and Pennsylvania, but they 
are spreading in the Middle West and Southwest. In 
California some big markets are starting to carry a line 
of naturally grown products, and the demand for these 
exceeds the supply. 

Throughout the country there are a few other meat and 
poultry producers who operate on a more limited scale, 
growing some of their own feeds and supplementing them 
with commercial feeds; although any use of commercial 
feed makes it virtually impossible to eliminate all con¬ 
tamination, these growers are making praiseworthy strides 
away from adulteration by using, on their own animals, 
no sprays, antibiotics, artificial hormones or other chem¬ 
icals that contaminate meats and alter the biology of the 
animals. 

Many “health stores” sell naturally grown products. 
Generally, however, these are found only in large cities. 
They carry many commendable products, but they also 
have much junk. There are quacks and frauds in their 
ranks, just as there are among chemical growers and pro¬ 
cessors who enjoy the favors of the Government. 

The best source of naturally grown foods is the grower 
himself, who often advertises his wares in those publica¬ 
tions orientated toward growing and consumption of 
natural foods. Among the publications listing these sources 
are Prevention and its companion magazine, Organic Gar¬ 
dening and Farming, published by Rodale Press, Inc., 
Emmaus, Pensylvania. The latter publication is devoted to 
instructions for growing foods and flowers without the 
use of chemicals. 

This is an organized movement representing a ground 
swell of public indignation, which gains momentum as 
people learn that the Government has sacrificed them to 
commercial interests. It recognizes that the only real re¬ 
form must come from strong food laws vigorously en¬ 
forced, and that such reform will come only when the 
people become sufficiently incensed to demand that their 
legislators give them the protection that is their right. 

While it may be comforting to expect the Government 




220 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


to guarantee the integrity of those who supply the na¬ 
tion’s food, realism dictates that there can be no substi¬ 
tute for personal vigilance. 

It is the individual, in the final analysis, who must be 
responsible for the purity and safety of the food he buys. 
Every housewife can choose between pure foods and those 
bearing labels stating that they contain artificial colors, 
artificial flavors, emulsifiers and the whole galaxy of addi¬ 
tives. If the housewives of the country begin to seek and 
demand pure foods without additives or pesticide con¬ 
taminants (which should be clearly listed upon the label) 
and insist upon their right to such foods, the food industry 
will see that they get them. 







Bibliography 

A complete bibliography of all the material used in 
compiling this book would run to dozens of pages, cover¬ 
ing official reports, Congressional hearings, press releases, 
newspaper clippings, magazine articles, books, pamphlets, 
speeches, correspondence and various other data that fill 
several file drawers. To print such a voluminous record 
would serve little purpose for the average reader. For 
persons who are interested in further pursuing the subject 
discussed briefly in Chapter XII—the relationship between 
the soil and its products and health—the following books 
are recommended: 

An Agricultural Testament, by Sir Albert Howard, Oxford 
University Press, New York. 

Natural Food and Farming Digest, published by Natural 
Food Associates, Inc., Atlanta, Texas. 

Nutrition and Health, by Sir Robert McCarrison and H. 

M. Sinclair, Faber and Faber, London. 

Human Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, by Weston 
A. Price, Paul B. Hoeber, Inc., New York. 

Nutrition and the Soil : Thoughts on Feeding, by Lionel 
Picton, M.D., Devin-Adair Co., New York. 

Our Plundered Planet, by Fairfield Osborne, Little Brown 
& Co., Boston. 

Our Poisoned Earth and Sky, by J. I. Rodale, Rodalc 
Press, Emmaus, Pennsylvania. 

Soil Fertility and Animal Health, by William A. Albrecht, 
Ph.D., Fred Hahne Printing Co., Webster City, Iowa. 
Studies in Deficiency Disease, by Sir Robert McCarrison, 
Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, Milwaukee, 
Wis. 

The Living Soil, by E. D. Balfour, Devin-Adair Co., New 
York. 

Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson, Houghton Mifflin Co., 
Boston. 

The Soil and Health, Farming and Gardening for Health 
or Disease, by Sir Albert Hbward, Devin-Adair Co., 
New York. 


221 





222 


THE POISONS IN YOUR FOOD 


The Web of Life, by John H. Storer, Devin-Adair Co., 
New York. 

The Wheel of Health, by G. T. Wrench, M.D., Lee Foun¬ 
dation for Nutritional Research, Milwaukee, Wis. 

Your Bread and Your Life, by Doris Grant, Faber and 
Faber, London. 

Recommended for persons interested in learning more 
about gardening by natural methods (without use of poi¬ 
sons) : 

Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, Rodale Books, Inc., 
Emmaus, Pennsylvania. 

Gardening with Nature: How to Grow Your Own Vege¬ 
tables, Fruits and Flowers by Natural Methods, by 
Leonard Wickenden, Devin-Adair Co., New York. 
Make Friends with Your Land, by Leonard Wickenden, 
Devin-Adair Co., New York. 

Organic Gardening, by J. I. Rodale, Hanover House, Gar¬ 
den City, New York. 

Pay•, Dirt, Farming and Gardening with Composts, by J. I. 
Rodale, Devin-Adair Co., New York. 

Recommended for general interest: 

Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit, by Adelle Davis, Harcourt, 
Brace and Co., New York. 

Tomorrow’s Food, by James Rorty and N. Philip Norman, 
M.D., Devin-Adair Co., New York. 




About the Author 


William Longgood is a free lance writer. For 17 years 
he was a reporter and feature writer for The New York 
World-Telegram, winning many awards, among them a 
Pulitzer Prize in journalism. 


s 


223 




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YOU ARE PART 
OP A GREAT 
EXPERIMENT 


Since World War II a torrent of deadly 
chemicals has poured into our diet 
in the form of flavorings, dyes, 
bleaches, insecticides, preserva¬ 
tives, buffers, sweeteners, extend¬ 
ers, thickeners, conditioners, and 
many -- too many -- more. 

Virtually everything we now eat has 
been treated with some chemical agent 
somewhere along the line. 

The problem of these agents in our 
foodhas risen to a crisis that is 
alarming doctors, specialists and 
Public Health officials everywhere. 

Vested interests, whose preoccupa¬ 
tion with the sales of their products 
often negates their concern with hu¬ 
man life, claim that while poisonous 
agents are indeed being used, they are 
safe in the amounts used . 

But, while the controversy rages as 
to the hazard to human life t} ese chem¬ 
icals produce, it is the public -- you 
and your family -- that must serve as 
the guinea pig in this reckless experi¬ 
ment . 


A PYRAMID BOCEl 


Printed in D.S.A.